Community Safety and Crime in Brighton & Hove


Date of Meeting:

19th November 2020

Report of:

Interim Director of Housing Neighbourhoods and Communities

Contact Officer:


Jo Player





Ward(s) affected:








1.1         Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, there is a requirement for statutory and other partners to formulate a plan every three years to tackle crime and disorder and monitor progress.  A new Community Safety Strategy was agreed by full council in July 2020. This report provides an update on the work undertaken by the Community Safety Partnership in relation to the Community Safety and Crime Reduction Strategy.


1.2         At this committee in May 2020 amendments tabled by the Green Group and the Conservative group requested updates to be provided regarding the impact of COVID 19 on the new strategy, as well as on essential workers and services such as domestic abuse. Information regarding this is contained within the body of the report. A briefing note was provided to accompany the strategy to full council. For ease of reference this is attached at Appendix 1.




2.1         That the committee notes the report

2.2         The Committee reaffirm the Council’s commitment to continued support to the community safety partnership work



Overview of police recorded crimes and incidents and the impact of Covid

CAVEAT: It should be noted that police recorded crime statistics can be impacted by changes in reporting practices, recording practices and policing activity, as well as by the number of crimes actually taking place. There has been some delay in receiving police crime statistics due to COVID.

3.1         In 2019/20 there were a total of 29,393 crimes recorded by the police in Brighton & Hove, an increase of 8% on 2018/19, which in turn was 3% increase on 2017/18.  After 11 months of 2019/20 there was a greater increase (up 12%), but people’s daily lives had begun to change due to Covid during the course of March, with the result that fewer crimes were already being committed during that month. 

3.2         Total recorded crimes per month compared with the average of the same months in 2018 and 2019 were up in February (prior to lockdown) by 29%, but 11% lower in March and 21% lower in April.  Crimes have risen in the months since then.  They remained lower until July, but by August were 2% higher than the average of the previous two years.

3.3         Although the total recorded pattern is as described above, Covid has impacted variously on different types of crime and incidents.  Graphs providing more details are provided at Appendix 2.

3.4         Generally, crimes which happen in a public place, including violent offences, thefts and criminal damage and were much reduced during the months of April and May, when the tightest lockdown conditions were in place.  However, they climbed up over the summer months.  Criminal damage offences in August were particularly high.

3.5         In contrast to the lockdown period resulting in reduced numbers of violent crimes in a public place, there have been more domestic violence offences recorded, with the months of April and August being particularly high.

3.6         Sexual offences showed a drop in the months of March to June.  In previous years, sexual offences have shown a clear link to the night-time economy, so the effect during lockdown is consistent with this.

3.7         Robberies (mostly personal robberies) also dropped in the early lockdown period, presumably linked to fewer people in public spaces reducing opportunities.  However, numbers increased during the summer.

3.8         Crimes against businesses also dropped right down at the beginning of lockdown but continued to remain lower than in previous years throughout the summer.

3.9         There always tends to be a seasonal pattern to cycle theft associated with how many people are cycling, but in addition to this, there was a particular spike in cycle thefts in May, perhaps reflecting higher numbers of people cycling for exercise over that period.

3.10      Total recorded hate crimes during the early lockdown period (Apr and May 2020) were slightly lower than average of the corresponding months in the previous two years.  However, racist and homophobic incidents and crimes have both seen quite a steep rise over the summer months.

3.11      Police recorded anti-social behaviour incidents showed a contrasting picture to most types of recorded crime.  While numbers recorded in March were in line with the previous months, there was a sudden increased in April to a level more than twice the average of the previous two years.  Contributing to this rise were reports to the police of groups gathering in contravention of physical distancing guidance.  Nuisance ASB reports were mostly responsible for the overall increase since they are the most numerous of the three sub types of ASB incident, but the same general pattern was also seen in personal and environmental ASB incidents.

3.12      Data collected from key partners showed that during the lockdown period (March -July 2020) there were increases in abuse both verbal and physical towards key workers. Police data shows that there was a 26% increase of abuse towards police officers and a 56% increase towards other emergency workers. NHS have also reported increased abuse towards staff, although numerical data has not been provided. Council data suggests that recorded incidents of verbal and physical abuse against officers decreased compared to a similar period the previous year, albeit there is anecdotal evidence that incidents of verbal abuse have actually increased. All agencies have reported that support systems are in place to support staff to deal with these issues.


Updates on work on the Strategy priority areas

Serious violence (incl. the night-time economy)

3.13      The Home Office agreed additional one-year funding for 2020-21 to continue the development work of the Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP; previously known as the Violence Reduction Unit) and this has grown over the past six months.  The majority of the Home Office funding re-commissioned the Brighton Streets Partnership detached youth work to target violence hotspot areas and respond to emerging issues where appropriate (such as Hove Lawns).  The Home Office has also re-funded the Serious Organised Crime Community Coordinator pilot for one more year.  A young people’s participation group to ensure the VRP meets the needs of our local young people is also funded. 

3.14      Public consultation has begun on the city’s statement of licensing policy which is due to go to committee in November 2020.  Over 200 businesses have now signed up to the ‘sensible on strength’ scheme with a further 49 that have stopped selling but are not part of the scheme.  

3.15      Lockdown forced some work to be postponed and impacted on some aspects of delivery timescales for quarter one at least.  This includes some of the planned activity such as training for local businesses regarding age restricted products

3.16      A pan-Sussex police operation explored the impact of COVID-19 on drug supply and demand.  It was reported in Brighton & Hove that there was an impact on drug supply and concerns of increased debt entrapment, possible trafficking, and risking escalating violence later in the summer.  There are plans to develop key messages for the city around serious violence to integrate into a wider communications plan.


3.17      The multi-agency Adolescent Vulnerability Risk Meeting (AVRM) continues to be held weekly to ensure that safety plans in place for children at risk of criminal or sexual exploitation are robust and adaptive to increased risks posed by COVID-19 and lockdown. 

3.18      The Serious and Organised Crime Cuckooing Group has reviewed its terms of reference and membership as a response to the improved safeguarding processes as part of Operation Cuckoo.  This has been intelligence-led policing and engagement with key partners such as health and adult social care and the third sector.  The revised group’s aims are to improve our response to repeat victims / addresses and perpetrators using the full range of tools and powers available to us.

3.19      The council’s modern slavery referral pathway launched in April to improve monitoring of the S.52 duty to notify the Home Office of all potential victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.  There has been an increase in training for all council staff and particularly those in pathway services to ensure they have the specialist skills and knowledge required to complete a National Referral Mechanism online report.  This work is overseen by the internal modern slavery steering group which will also lead on other priority areas such as transparent supply chains and identifying third sector support for victims.

Domestic violence and abuse, sexual violence and violence against women & girls

3.20      Police recorded domestic violence crimes and incidents increased by 5% in 2018/19 compared with 2017/18 and have increased further by 13% in the first half of 2019/20 compared with the same period in 2018/19.

3.21      The number of police recorded sexual offences in 2018/19 showed a slight increase of 1.2% and in 2019/20 there has been a further small increase of 0.4% in the first half of the year. 

3.22      The volume of referrals to the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) for domestic violence continues to increase, with 552 cases referred in 2017/18 and 707 in 2018/19.  Numbers continue to rise and in the first six months of 2019/20 there were 354 cases referred.

3.23      The pandemic and easing of lockdown continue to present challenges to service delivery and the anticipation of further increases in referrals when children return to school in September. Easing of eviction restrictions may result in pressure on available temporary accommodation options for victims fleeing abuse. An increase in calls to helplines was noted during lockdown although referrals via national helplines to local services did not show an increase. However those referrals are now starting to increase.

3.24      The total number of referrals to Brighton & Hove weekly MARAC have increased and are now above the national, most similar group, police force and Safe Lives recommended level per 10,000 population. This is partly attributable to an increase in repeat referrals through 2019/20 which are also above the national, most similar group and recommended Safe Lives referral levels.

3.25      Initial scoping work has been undertaken by the Joint Unit to ensure suitable emergency placements are available when Refuge provision is not available/suitable for someone fleeing Domestic Abuse. This is in the early stages however, and ongoing support from housing teams is needed to move this forward.

Anti-social behaviour

3.26      The Partnership Tactical Tasking and Co-ordination Group continues to agree and review community safety priorities and ensures that resources are appropriately deployed.

3.27      BHCC and police joint patrols have begun with a focus on fly tipping and graffiti.

3.28      The revised Housing, Neighbourhoods and Communities (HNC) directorate ASB and hate incident joint working procedures have been agreed and successfully implemented.

Hate incidents and crimes

3.29      Recent developments have included the launch of the Anti-Racism pledge and package of immediate actions by the council and closer partnership working between council teams.  There is also increased partnership work across statutory and third sector partners to develop third party reporting centres and mechanisms and other work to encourage reporting.

3.30      The Law Commission and CPS is to consult with local trans and non-binary community to understand impact of online hate crime as evidence for revision of hate crime laws, and the CPS is to work with LGBTQ communities to understand community harm from targeted online hate and promote effective community understanding.

3.31      The Communities Coordinator has continued to facilitate the Upstanders Network and has held online Upstanders meetings throughout lockdown and re-established the working groups to develop Upstanders social media and an online Upstanders Network event

Challenge Extremism

3.32      The Communities Coordinator has adapted counter-extremism work throughout the Covid period, Upstanders Network and ANYone Brighton projects have continued to be facilitated online. 

3.33      There is concern over increasing Far Right activity including zoom-bombing of local events and graffiti.

3.34      There were reports of the widespread distribution of the “Epoch times” publication which included misinformation in relation to Covid and racist messaging.  BHCC released a statement condemning the messaging and continues to promote hate incident reporting. 


3.35      The Counter Terrorism Local Profile (CTLP) and the threat and risk pictures for the City were discussed at the Prevent Board meeting and the refreshed Prevent Action plan responsive to all current and emerging risks in the city was agreed at the Board meeting in July 2020 and September 2020

3.36      Following the terrorist incident in Reading on 21st June 2020 the Prevent Coordinator continued to work with various communities in the city to gauge and respond to community concerns.  In line with the established practice in the City, the leaders of political parties and the One Voice Partnership issued statements to respond to identified concerns and reassure communities.  Positive messaging reached a very large number of residents encouraging reporting of hate incidents, terrorist concerns, online material and helped to understand and reduce community tensions.  The resources are available online and disseminated widely cross the city’s communities and partnerships (including communities-led Racial Harassment Forum and the LGBT Community Safety Forum).  Work also focused on improving awareness of ACT e-learning, advice and other resources to improve safety. 

3.37      Channel Panel has continued to meet monthly, virtually, with good attendance from partners.  During Covid-19, the Prevent team continued to support cases on a weekly basis where possible to support wellbeing and reduce risks. 




4.1         This report is intended to provide an update on current progress on the work carried out as part of the Community Safety and Crime Reduction Strategy, this section is not applicable.  Ways of achieving the aims set out in the partnership Strategy are considered based on the annual strategic assessment of crime and community safety. 




5.1         The Strategic Assessment on which the current Strategy is based was carried out in the in December 2019 and included a consultation event on the findings and proposed priorities for 2020-23. Invited participants included members of the Community Safety Partnership Board, and community and voluntary sector partners, including representatives of Local Action Teams and communities of interest.

5.2         A draft of the Community Safety Strategy was made available for public comment via the consultation portal and in more targeted arenas.


6.            CONCLUSION


6.1         This report is to provide an update of progress on work under the Community Safety and Crime Reduction Strategy 2020-23 and to invite any comment.





Financial Implications:



7.1         There are no direct financial implications arising from this report, however, any work undertaken by the council as a result of this report will need to be met from current budget resources.


            Finance Officer Consulted:     Michael Bentley                            Date: 08/10/20


Legal Implications:


7.2         There are no implications arising directly from this report which is for noting.                     

            Lawyer Consulted:     Alice Rowland                                            Date: 21/10/20




            Equalities Implications:


7.3         The Community Safety and Crime Reduction Strategy is subject to an ongoing and embedded equality impact assessment where specific actions and activities are identified and assessed for equality impact. The work around hate crime helps us to address our responsibilities under the Equalities Act.


            Sustainability Implications:


7.4         None

Appendix 2:  Recorded crimes and incidents per month in 2020 compared with average or previous two years

Total Crimes


Total recorded crime per month compared with the average of the same months in 2018 and 2019:

o   Feb, up 29%

o   Mar, down 11%

o   Apr, down 21%

o   May, down 16%

o   Jun, down 5%

o   Jul, down 5%

o   Aug, up 2%



Violence against the person

All violence against the person (VAP) crimes in the year up to Feb were showing about a 10% increase on 2018/19.  In the months since then total VAP crimes have generally a similar trend to the previous two years.  However, just looking a violent crimes which happened in a public place, numbers were depressed during the early Covid months of April and May, but have steadily climbed in the subsequent months, and by Aug, numbers were actually higher than the average of the previous two Augusts.

The subgroups of assault with less serious injury and common assault show a similar pattern to all VAP and to public place violence.



Acquisitive Crimes

Most acquisitive crime groups were similar or higher in Jan and Feb compared with last 2 years.

Burglary data here is a combination of residential and non-residential and numbers have steadily dropped over the first half of 2020, before a jump up in Jul, but dropping back in Aug.

Crimes typically associated with engagement in retail and leisure environments showed a particular decline between Mar and May, but have continued to remain much lower than the previous two year average.

There always tends to be a seasonal pattern to cycle theft associated with how many people are cycling, but in addition to this, there was a spike in cycle thefts in May.




Domestic and sexual violence and abuse

Recorded domestic violence and abuse was up by 17% in the 11m up to Feb. In the months since then, numbers have been higher than the average of the same months of 2018 and 2019, with the months of Apr and Aug particularly so.

Sexual offences showed a drop in the months of Mar to Jun.  In previous years, sexual offences have shown a clear link to the night time economy.


Criminal damage and antisocial behaviour (ASB)

Recorded criminal damage offences were up by 9% in the 11m up to Feb 2020 compared with the same period the year before.  There were fewer criminal damage offences recorded in Apr and May than the average of the same months in 2018 and 2019.  However, numbers have risen steadily since then, with a particular jump up in August.

In the 11m up to Feb total ASB incidents were down by 9%.  While the month of Mar was in line with the previous months, numbers of ASB nuisance incidents suddenly increased in April to more than twice the average of the previous two years.  Nuisance ASB reports were mostly responsible for the overall increase since they are the most numerous of the three sub types of ASB incident, but the same general pattern was also seen in personal and environmental ASB.



Hate incidents and crimes


In the 11m up to February 2020 racist, religiously motivated and homophobic incidents and crimes were all showing an increase compared with the previous year, while gender identity and disability motivated crimes were at a roughly similar level. 

Total recorded hate crimes during the early lockdown period (Apr and May 2020) were slightly lower than average of the corresponding months in the previous two years.  However, racist and LGB hate incidents and crimes have both seen quite a steep rise over the summer months.

Hate incidents and crimes are often associated with the night-time economy which has been affected by the Covid outbreak.



Crimes against business fell in Mar and Apr, and although they have risen in subsequent months, they have remained lower than previous two years. 

Robberies (mostly personal robberies) have also dropped in the early lockdown period, presumably linked to fewer people in public spaces reducing opportunities.  However, they climbed up during the summer.