Complaints about house parties and Covid ‘rule breaking’ in Edinburgh fuels doubling of anti-social behaviour incidents

A surge in calls about people in Edinburgh breaching Covid rules and holding house parties fuelled a doubling of anti-social behaviour incidents recorded by police over the first six months of the pandemic.

New Police Scotland figures have revealed there were 9,697 publicly reported anti-social behaviour complaints made between April 1 and September 30 compared to 4,779 over the same period last year.

Chief Superintendent Sean Scott says the increase is down to more nuisance calls about breaches of social distancing and coronavirus regulations around indoor and outdoor gatherings including house parties.

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Noise complaints made to police also increased from 4,763 to 5,218 incidents year on year while neighbour disputes rose by more than a third.

Chief Superintendent Sean Scott. Pic: Neil Hanna
Chief Superintendent Sean Scott. Pic: Neil Hanna

But the number of other antisocial behaviour crimes - covering offences like fire-raising, vandalism or reckless conduct - has fallen from 2,655 to 2,091.

Chief Superintendent Scott said: “Public nuisance calls have increased by 100 percent. The kind of stuff we are talking about is people not social distancing and having parties in groups indoors and outdoors that people perceive to be breaching the regulations.

“We will go along and do the four E’s approach (to engage, explain, encourage and then enforce) and explain what we are doing and encourage people to be compliant and enforce as a last resort.”

He said the pull of resources towards dealing with more nuisance calls has been balanced out by reduced crime levels in other areas.

For instance, the latest Police Scotland figures also show violent crime has fallen year on year in Edinburgh between April and September.

The number of serious assaults fell from 181 to 128, while there were also 40 fewer robberies and assaults with intent to rob.

However, there have been increases in other types of crime in the Capital such as drink and drug driving, with 251 offences recorded in the six months up to September 30 compared to 190 offences last year. Chief Superintendent Scott says this is down to offenders being more visible to road policing patrols on quieter roads caused by Covid travel restrictions.

Similar to the rest of Scotland, fraud crimes have also increased year on year in Edinburgh - from 700 to 837 offences.