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GETTING WORSE: Night time city centre crime rates back to pre-Covid levels

GETTING WORSE: Night time city centre crime rates back to pre-Covid levels

Alcohol-related crime in the city centre has shot up following the re-opening of pubs and bars

Crime and antisocial behaviour rates in Leeds city centre have risen to pre-Covid levels, despite hopes that lockdowns would act as a “fire break”, a meeting of councillors has heard.

It follows a report which suggested crime and antisocial behaviour in Leeds city centre was getting worse following the post-lockdown reopening of bars in the area.

Speaking at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s licensing committee this week, one of the authority’s licensing officers claimed early intelligence has shown that alcohol-related crime in the city centre has shot up following the re-opening of pubs and bars in the summer.

The meeting also heard that intelligence would be gathered in the future to figure our whether this is just a “blip” due to the public’s excitement at the lifting of lockdown rules, or whether more needed to be done to combat night time antisocial behaviour.

Coun Ryk Downes (Lib Dem) asked: “There hasn’t been much night time economy to report on, but the police say coming back it’s been bad. Do we have any indication how bad that is? Is it a minor increase or is it something we need to be really worried about?”

Council licensing officer Sue Duckworth replied: “During the lockdowns, everything went very quiet. With the night time economy closed entirely for a good portion of 2020 and at times this year, the crime rates remained very low up until July when the night time economy opened.

“I am advised that, in the city centre specifically, crime rates have risen back to their previous levels. We don’t know whether that was down to having premises shut for so long and then suddenly reopening and people getting super-excited.

“We are just not sure what the long-term impact is, which is why we should be looking at this in 12 months.

“We have asked for a month-by-month breakdown so we can see the curve. We are hoping we will see a blip, then it will go back to its more usual levels.

“We were really hoping that this would work as a fire break, and that we would see a reduction in crime and disorder in the city centre, and that hasn’t happened.”

A report by council officers claimed antisocial behaviour was still a “severe” problem in parts of Leeds, despite attempts by the council to quell drink-related issues via cumulative impact policy (CIP) zones.

CIPs are areas in which it is more difficult to get a new permission to sell alcohol due to problems with drink-related antisocial behaviour.

But the document claimed figures for the city centre, Headingley and Hyde Park, all areas with CIPs, are rising once again following the post-lockdown reopening of bars.

Coun Downes said: “All I would ask for is within that review, finding out if it has gone up because of the excitement of going back and then plateaued. If we can get some commentary behind the figures and saying what the reasons it.

“We should find out what is driving the increase, is it something we can naturally turn around or are interventions required?”

 

Words: Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter


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