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Police could face ‘more volatile and agitated society’ after lockdown

Staffordshire Police

By Thomas Hornall, PA

Police should be ready to deal with a “more volatile and agitated society” after the UK’s lockdown measures are eased, according to an interview with a senior police officer.

Chief Superintendent Paul Griffiths, president of the Police Superintendents’ Association, told the Independent news site that economic difficulties can lead to a “rise in crime and disorder”.

He told the site: “There are going to be people who are out of work, businesses that have not been able to sustain themselves, and the impact on society will start to come through.”

Crime levels in England and Wales have fallen by more than a quarter during the pandemic, with a 28% decrease in the four weeks to April 12 compared to the same period last year.

During the four weeks there has been a 37% reduction in police recorded burglary, a 27% drop in vehicle crime, serious assault and personal robbery while recorded rape offences have fallen 37%.

Fears have been raised of an increase in domestic violence amid enforced isolation at home, and police have seen an increase of 3% in recorded offences year on year.

There has also been a 59% rise in reports of anti-social behaviour, being attributed to breaches of coronavirus lockdown rules.

Mr Griffiths told the Independent that “with all this suppression at some point it will be released”.

He added: “My worry is that there will be a whole load of societal impacts from what we have gone through over those months.

“Those consequences could be a more volatile and agitated society.

“The suppression at the moment is clearly done for the right reasons to stop the spread of the disease, but there may be impacts for individual mental health and what then will that mean?

“We’ve got to try and think through the consequences of these actions, and what are the unintended consequences.”