The “stresses and strains” of the Covid-19 pandemic have been identified as a key reason for an increase in anti-social behaviour across Cornwall.

There has been a rise in such behaviour over the past 12 months and it was highlighted in a report from the Safer Cornwall Partnership to Cornwall Council’s neighbourhoods overview and scrutiny committee this morning.

The increase in anti-social behaviour was said to be the first for almost ten years after the Safer Cornwall Partnership has seen year-on-year reductions over the last decade.

Truro councillor Rob Nolan raised a question about the increase and what was the cause: “Are you aware of any new group or groups of people emerging that are causing this disruption and do you think post Covid we will be back to worrying about the things we were worrying about previously?”

Erika Sorenson, strategic intelligence manager, said: “We have seen a complete change, particularly in anti-social behaviour, over the last year. We had a steady reduction in anti-social behaviour for the best part of ten years.

“The stresses and strains of the pandemic have been a major contributory factor, the pandemic legislation has led to more anti-social behaviour being reported and people being more aware of what is going on.

“We have had some issues with groups congregating in our town centres, some of that has been the usual suspects, those who are already known to the various agencies and services, but we have seen some groups of young people particularly that have been causing anti-social behaviour and have been causing some concern.”

Ms Sorenson said that the Safer Cornwall Partnership had been working with various groups, including the council’s children’s services, to help try and address the problem and work with young people.

She added: “Looking at these groups of young people, they are mostly in urban areas and most in our town centres.

“The presence of organised crime groups has risen and the young people we are looking to engage with are often on the periphery of those groups.

“It is important that we have the eyes and ears on the ground about the people who are at risk and sometimes the action that needs to be taken means enforcement.

“We also need to look at how do we break that cycle of behaviour so the young person doesn’t go on in that world.”

Simon Mould, head of service for communities at Cornwall Council, said that he wanted to ensure that all incidents of anti-social behaviour are reported so that all agencies involved have the most up to date data and can then respond to that and also draw up a long term strategy.

However he said that while young people had been identified as sometimes being the cause of this kind of behaviour there was also a need to protect young people.

He said: “We are looking to support young people who feel they are receiving the blame now for the spread of Covid.

“There is a perception that young groups gathering together do not have the same expectations as adults gathering for the football and suchlike.”

Cllr Nolan said that he had not wanted to blame young people for the increase and also said that it was not an issue confined to the likes of Truro and St Austell but was “all over the place”.

Mr Mould said that he would be reporting back to the Covid response group and said that there was work going on with the voluntary sector to set up summer groups and activities to help young people.