Anti-social behaviour decline down to changes in recording of crime
A steep decline in recorded incidents of anti-social behaviour has been put down to changes in the way police track crime.
Suffolk has seen a dramatic fall in recorded anti-social behaviour (ASB) over the last decade, according to official statistics.
Yet, in response to the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW), one in three people still claimed to have witnessed ASB in the last year.
The latest national crime statistics showed Suffolk police recorded 8,161 incidents in the year ending March 2020 – down from 43,970 in 2007/08.
The rate per 1,000 people (11) was half the national average, with Suffolk recording the second lowest number of incidents in the country, behind Cumbria.
The CSEW, covering the same period, showed 37% of people had experienced or witnessed ASB – the national average being 40%.
Assistant Chief Constable Rob Jones said the fall was in no small part down to nationwide changes in the way police record crime.
He said tighter rules around data integrity meant a shift from labelling incidents under a ‘catch-all’ ASB category, which could include numerous and varied problems in need of addressing.
By recording specific offences, he said police were able to adopt best practice and invest in finding local solutions to specific areas of concern, adding: “Where we get ASB problems that aren’t going away, we can bring people in to see what we’re missing and what we can do to address it.
“Criminal damage is a good example of where we take a strategic approach. In the case of graffiti, where there’s high harm or when its hate-based, we would take strong action.”
Mr Jones said reports of ASB can lead to the discovery of much more serious criminality.
In recent years, he added, police have seen increasing examples of vulnerable people being taken advantage of, and their homes being taken over by drug gangs – with investigations often beginning with reports of ASB from nearby residents.
Mr Jones added: “Addressing fear of crime, and people not feeling safe, is something incredibly important – and every neighbourhood has policing priorities that reflect that.
“During lockdown, we noticed a big increase in intelligence around things like ASB. I want to encourage that and say how valuable it is in building a picture and allowing us to respond.”
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