PROMISED ACTION: Crunch talks to end anti-social behaviour
Current Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kim McGuinness at the election count in Sunderland, Image: Reach PLC
Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has promised action to rid the region of anti-social behaviour and stop communities’ problems being trapped in a constant “back and forth” between authorities.
Kim McGuinness made the pledge after anti-social behaviour incidents shot up by almost 50% after the Covid pandemic struck.
Figures show a 44% rise in reports across the Northumbria area from April 2020 to April 2021, compared to the previous year.
While much of that rise can be put down to the fact that breaches of Covid lockdown rules were classified as anti-social behaviour, police say there were still another 3,500 incidents not related to Covid offences.
Ms McGuinness told councillors on Tuesday afternoon that she would be convening a summit later this month to tackle the problem – and stop frustrated residents having their concerns batted between police and local councils.
The Labour PCC, who was re-elected earlier this year, told the Northumbria Police and Crime Panel that she would “work with the police to take a more strategic approach, rather than the back and forth approach between the council and police”.
She added: “Anti-social behaviour has risen and the public has made clear that we need to deal with it.
“I intend for us to do that. I am glad that all of the councils have been keen to get involved with this and tackle this problem on a force-wide basis.”
Ms McGuinness said that key to ending communities’ frustrations over issues ranging from noise or littering to drug dealing would be having “clear routes” to report problems and “making it simple for people”.
The former Newcastle city councillor said: “There will be times when the police need to be involved and times when it will be the council. I am not sure that there is a clear differentiation and I am not sure the solution is to create one, but more to clean up the way people can report it without necessarily going through 101.”
According to statistics presented this week, Covid-19 sparked a massive rise in anti-social behaviour reports – with the number of incidents recorded in March last year jumping from around 4,000 to roughly 9,000 in both April and May 2020.
Her report to the panel of councillors added that there had been a further reduction in problems between this April and July, with anti-social behaviour down by 33% or 10,000 fewer incidents compared to the same period in 2020.
Ahead of the crunch talks between local authorities, the PCC added: “I will go with an open mind to hear what colleagues from the councils say. Having been a councillor and a PCC, if there is one nut to crack it is this.”
Words: Daniel Holland, Local Democracy Reporter
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