Somerset arrest rate is higher than before lockdown as police face spike

THE chief of Somerset police has spoken out as crime has risen again in the easing of lockdown.

The force received more than 1,000 calls to 999 between 5pm on Friday, July 17, and 8am on Monday, July 20.

While lockdown is easing, there are still coronavirus guidelines in place.

And yet, police have been called to a number of major incidents, including a 150-strong street party.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “We pulled officers away from front-line response duties to form a dedicated unit to respond to reports of unlicensed music events.

“This team successfully prevented one such event near Frome in Somerset on Saturday night after information from the public – but were then deployed to Upper Swainswick near Bath to prevent any more people turning up to a rave which was already underway when we had our first calls.

“We called officers in from rest days and other forces to close the event down by Sunday afternoon.”

Police seized five vehicles and sound equipment and made one arrest. A post incident review is ongoing and with police planning to take robust action against those found to be responsible.

Chief Con Marsh added: “The incidents we attended between Friday and Sunday resulted in 178 people being taken into custody – a 20 per cent increase on the last weekend of June and higher than the levels we were seeing before lockdown began.”

As well as lockdown parties, police across Somerset are still trying to deal with major incidents.

Officers were called to a serious disorder in Easton, Bristol, on Saturday night following which two men were stabbed.

One man remains in a life-threatening condition. An arrest was made and an investigation is ongoing.

There were four serious collisions.

A pedestrian died on the M32, another on the M5 near Clevedon and people suffered very serious injuries in collisions in Henbury and Yeovil.

Across Somerset, 14 officers were assaulted while trying to help people and protect the public.

They faced being spat at, biting, scratching, punching, kicking, pushing and verbal abuse – including racial abuse.

All these officers remained on duty – including one who returned to work immediately after treatment to a dislocated shoulder.

Officers were trying to find 39 missing people – including nine assessed as high risk There were 95 calls reporting concern for welfare and 36 for people in mental health crisis. Officers also had 79 reports of domestic assault to respond to.

Chief Con Marsh said: “This is all on top of three months of additional pressure on officers and staff working tirelessly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the clear risks to their own health.

“We put our lives on the line to serve and protect and you play your part by reporting incidents, giving us information and showing pride and respect for the community you’re a part of.

“Sadly, we don’t have limitless resources and can’t be everywhere at once.”

Somerset County Gazette | News