Crime: Anti-social behaviour reports increase as St Albans residents call police over neighbours’ lockdown breaches

Herts Police said a spike in anti-social behaviour reports was down to St Albans residents reporting

Herts Police said a spike in anti-social behaviour reports was down to St Albans residents reporting their neighbours for alleged coronavirus lockdown breaches. - Credit: Archant

Herts Police sees ASB complaints rise by 38 per cent in March

Anti-social behaviour reports have risen in St Albans as a result of residents reporting their neighbours for coronavirus rule-breaking, said Herts Police.

Crime stats published by the Home Office showed anti-social behaviour offences were up 38 per cent in March 2020, compared to March 2019.

The last nine days of March were spent under lockdown restrictions.

In February this year, anti-social behaviour reports had been stable, with exactly the same number – 166 – in February 2020 as there had been in February 2019.

But in March 2020, the number shot up to 226, whereas in March 2019 it had been 164.

A Herts Police spokesperson said: “It is important to note that anti-social behaviour covers a wide range of incidents, including neighbour disputes, bonfires, fly-tipping and street drinking, to name a few.

Most Read

“We have noticed since lockdown that anti-social behaviour is becoming more prevalent between neighbours, due to people reporting potential breaches of Government guidelines. “

The latest states showed that in March, crime overall was down by 11pc compared to March 2019.

Most categories of crime had seen decreases.

Burglary was down 36pc, drugs crime was down 61pc, public order offences had dropped by 30pc and shoplifting by 35pc.

Public order offences had been up by 12pc in February, compared to February 2019, suggesting the drop in March 2020 could have been due to pubs and clubs having closed for the last third of the month.

Vehicle crime was also 35pc down, whilst violent and sexual offences had reduced by 13pc, from 245 in March 2019 to 212 in March 2020.

Robbery saw no change, with three cases in both March 219 and March 2020. Criminal damage and arson were also stable, with 72 offences in March 2019 and 71 in March 2020.

But whilst shoplifting and theft from person were both down, “other theft” was up by 11pc. Possession of weapons was up by 50pc but numbers were low, with six offences in March 2019 but nine in March 2020.

Asked what it was doing to bring anti-social behaviour levels back down in St Albans, Herts Police said: “It remains an issue we are working hard to fix. We understand the negative effect that anti-social behaviour has on residents’ quality of life and we regularly patrol the hotspot areas.

“Where offenders are identified, officers work with the council’s anti-social behaviour and housing teams to take proportionate but firm action.”

Herts Police has credited teams of PCSOs and volunteers with reductions in crime across the county.

In St Albans, crime was down by 11 per cent in March 2020, compared to March 2019.

The force said its Safer Neighbourhood Teams were a key part of identifying and tackling emerging crime trends.

The force has also seen a slight increase in officer numbers. At the end of March 2019, it had 1,981 officers, compared to 2,045 at the start of March 2020 – an increase of just over 3pc.

It said: “It is difficult to attribute peaks and troughs in crime to any one specific cause, but we have a variety of different options and resources available to us, to help reduce crime, catch criminals and help keep people safe.

“Hertfordshire has retained strong local Safer Neighbourhood Teams, who are able to identify and swiftly tackle issues that require specific local action.”