Hampshire police prepared for increase in antisocial behaviour at 'whatever pace it comes'

POLICE are gearing up to handle a rise in antisocial behaviour as lockdown restrictions ease ‘at whatever pace it comes,’ a top officer has said.

Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 1:51 pm

It comes as crime figures from a freedom of information request submitted to Hampshire police by The News show in detail how lockdown cut crime.

Overall there were 305 crimes reported the day after lockdown was announced, Tuesday, March 24, compared to 420 on the same Tuesday in 2019.

Violent crime dropped from 140 incidents to 119, while sex crimes reduced from 18 to 13.

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Assistant chief constable Scott Chilton. Picture: Malcolm Wells (180320-8708)

Theft and robbery saw the biggest cut, from 139 to 84.

Weapon offences, drug-linked crime and public order incidents were also down.

The first Saturday of lockdown saw 245 crimes reported to police, against 418 on the comparable Saturday last year.

Saturday, March 30 last year saw 164 violent crimes and 133 theft or robbery offences. The first Saturday of lockdown saw 113 violent incidents and 48 theft or robbery.

There have been two cases in the area being treated as murder investigations by police. Detectives are investigating the death of Louise Smith, 16, from Leigh Park, and the separate fatal stabbing of 21-year-old George Allison in Leigh Park on Saturday.

Police nationally said there had been a reduction in crime during lockdown but there was previously no data for individual forces.

As reported, domestic abuse, fraud and assaults on emergency workers have increased during the lockdown.

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Closures of pubs and clubs, together with limits on social gatherings, have led to the reduction, police said.

Chief constable Olivia Pinkney previously told a scrutiny meeting she was concerned about levels of antisocial behaviour.

Assistant chief constable Scott Chilton said: ‘As society comes away from restrictions we would expect to see a return of things we have come to experience in the past, which includes an increase in reports of antisocial behaviour.

‘At the moment these are still below the levels we would normally expect to see based on previous experience. We are ready to meet any increase in demand, at whatever pace it comes.

‘As ever, we would ask the public to remain vigilant, and to report any crimes which are in progress or there is a threat to life by calling 999.’

He added: ‘We had seen a decrease in reported crimes when the government restrictions were initially put in place and this has continued throughout the latest phase of these measures.

‘This is most likely as a direct result of the majority of residents following government guidance and staying at home, combined with the fact that all non-essential businesses have been closed and social gatherings in pubs and clubs has ceased.

‘The public have remained compliant, adapted to the changes and we need to again thank them for doing so.’

Between March 27 and May 1, officers in Hampshire issued 244 fixed penalty notices to people for breaching lockdown rules.

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