Non-essential shops, hairdressers and bars were among the businesses permitted to reopen from April 12 under ministers’ ‘roadmap’ out of coronavirus restrictions.
But according to officers, advance work with bosses helped ensure the transition went ‘smoothly’ in the borough.
“That involved a lot of research and preparation work, getting the legislation from the Government and interpreting what it actually meant,” said acting Inspector Dave Stobbs.
“Then we did a bunch of joint visits between ourselves and [council] Environmental Health Officers, before the 12th, going around the premises to discuss with the licence holders and get them up to speed with what they should be doing.
“There’s a few little teething troubles that just need ironing out, but we’re working closely with them to make sure that places run smoothly and most importantly, safely – and that they comply with the Government legislation.”
Acting Inspector Stobbs was speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s West Shields, Cleadon and East Boldon Community Area Forum (CAF), which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
A year of the pandemic has seen a fall in total crime of 15 per cent across West Shields, with violent crime down more than a tenth and a 17 per cent decrease in burglaries.
But against this, rates of anti-social behaviour (ASB) have soared over the course of successive lockdowns, according to official police figures, compared to the previous 12 months.
Officers however have been keen to emphasise the role played by COVID-19 restrictions on the statistics, which now mean ASB figures must include breaches of coronavirus regulations.
Acting Inspector Stobbs added: “ASB is up 77% and that’s because of COVID.
“All the incidents relating to COVID breaches – group gatherings and so forth – all get recorded as ASB, so that’s showing a massive spike for us.”
In Cleadon, overall crime rates have reached their lowest level in three years, although rises are expected over the ‘light nights’ spring and summer period.