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Coronavirus: Aim to get all rough sleepers off the streets by the weekend

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The governments aim is to house all rough sleepers by the weekend as it tries to protect people as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

It means that anyone homeless across Crawley could been brought into a shelter by the weekend.

In a letter that has been sent to managers and co-ordinators of homelessness and rough-sleeping in local authorities, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said:

“As you know, this is a public health emergency. We are all redoubling our efforts to do what we possibly can at this stage to ensure that everybody is inside and safe by this weekend, and we stand with you in this.

“These are unusual times, so I’m asking for an unusual effort. Many areas of the country have already been able to ‘safe harbour’ their people, which is incredible. What we need to do now though is work out how we can get ‘everyone in’.”

The news was welcomed byt Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis who said:

“The government’s insistence that everyone sleeping rough should be housed by the weekend is a landmark moment – and the right thing to do.

“Questions remain about how local councils will be supported to do this, and whether additional funding, or assistance securing hotel rooms, will be made available.

“We also need to see a package of support so that, when the outbreak subsides, the outcome is not that people return to the streets.

“The government has committed to ending rough sleeping by 2025 – this proves it can be done in 2020 if we make it the priority it deserves to be.”

Coronavirus

Reports of anti-social behaviour across Crawley increase by as much as 780% during lockdown

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At first glance it is an alarming and worrying increase. The figures from Police.uk show how as the town entered lockdown at the end of March there was a huge increase in reports of anti-social behaviour through the following month of April.

Ifield had the largest increase in reports for anti-social behaviour with a huge rise of 780% in April 2020.

The figure for Ifield ward may be shocking but all other wards across the town have also seen a dramatic rise as well.

The following shows the percentage increase in reports of anti-social behaviour across Crawley for the first month of lockdown (April 2020).

Bewbush reported a 444%.

Pound Hill – 330% increase.

Northgate – 212% increase.

Broadfield – 150% increase.

Langley Green – 135% increase.

Southgate – 135% increase.

Tilgate – 118% increase.

Three Bridges – 100% increase.

Maidenbower reported – 81% increase.

So what has caused the sudden increase? Has the town suddenly become more ‘anti-social’?

Actually no, the answer has everything to do with the very lockdown itself and not what you would normally consider a ‘traditional anti-social behaviour’.

As the new rules were laid out then so most people acted correctly and obeyed them. But at the same time some didn’t and these people ended up getting reported by others.

Now a decision had to be made of how a report into a disobeyance of lockdown rules would be classed and in the end they were put under anti-social behavour.

Whether it was a report of a party happening in someones garden, through to groups of youths congregating on street corners, all these reports got filed under anti-social behaviour and saw the dramatic rise in figures.

One thing these figures have shown, however, is a glimpse into which wards were possibly obeying the rules more than others, OR conversely which ward residents were reporting more frequently on others.

But despite the dramatic rise Ifield did not actually have the highest number of anti-social reports in April 2020 across Crawley. Closer analysis of the figures shows that it was in-fact Broadfield that had the most reports.

Broadfield (which had a 150% rise) had 75 reports compared to Ifield’s 44 in April 2020 with Pound Hill (330% increase) receiving the second highest number of 56.

Looking at Ifields 780% rise, the actual number of anti-social reports in March 202 was only 5, while in April 2020 it was 44.

Our findings are supported by the response from Sussex Police over the figures.

District Commander for Crawley & Mid Sussex Chief Inspector Shane Baker said:

“Most crime types dropped sharply during the early stages of lockdown in April, however the suggested statistics does not reflect a true increase in reports of anti-social behaviour.

“After government restrictions were put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19, police received a high volume of reports of gatherings and Covid-19 related calls, these were recorded under anti-social behaviour and therefore it is not an increase in traditional ASB.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely and are committed to keeping our local communities safe and pleasant places to live, however overall crime is still well below this time last year.

Data for May 2020 has not yet been released, but it will be fascinating to see just how the data compares to the first month of lockdown and whether it raised more concerns of ‘anti-social behaviour’ or fewer.

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