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‘With community spirit & patience we will get through this’ – Crawley Police Chief thanks residents for staying at home

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Chief Inspector Shane Baker who is the District Commander for Crawley and Mid Sussex has thanked the towns residents and his own officers for their commitment to following the governments emergency measures.

Since the measures were introduced the majority of residents have been following the measures and when not required to go to work or to do essential travel have been staying at home.

But the Chief Inspector was also quick to point out that those who do flaunt the measures will find his officers will enforce the legislation where necessary.

CI Baker confirmed his officers who have been actioning ‘Operation Apollo’ have only had to deal with a handful of situations where some people were not abiding by the new rules but that these were very few.

So far officers had only had to deal with some shoppers breaking rules in a supermarket, gatherings being arranged on social media in several wards and some house parties.

He also confirmed that whilst 5% of his officers were off self-isolating, there was no disruption to their service as demand for general policing, in particular residential burglaries, was down due to people being indoors.

CI Baker added that those officers working from home were still able to continue investigative duties.

Nationally the police have had to contend with a lot of backlash as some forces were deemed to be acting far too heavy handed. CI Baker said that so far there had been no need for officers to fine anyone and that he was keen his officers used tactics of visibility and persuasion first and foremost.

His officers were also taking measures to protect the public as much as possible by keeping social distancing between themselves where possible and where it wasn’t such as within patrol cars, they were working with the same colleagues to minimise any potential spread.

CI Baker said:

“I thank the vast majority of Crawley residents and my officers for their continued commitment to the governments emergency measures.

We are still seeing people out without cause; these are not guidelines, this is for your own safety. My officers will enforce the emergency legislation where proportionate and necessary, but they should not have to.”

“We are all impacted by this pandemic, but with a sense of public duty, a community spirit and continued patience we will soon get through this whilst saving the lives of many.”

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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