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Police Scotland figures show antisocial behaviour and violence rose 99 per cent during the pandemic while at the same time Inverness city centre saw a 168 per cent decline

By Scott Maclennan

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ANTISOCIAL behaviour and violence in one of the most deprived areas of Inverness has risen to its highest levels in seven years.

A police report to city councillors will highlight that such cases increased by 99 per cent in the Merkinch area since the start of the pandemic.

Inverness Area Commander Chief Inspector Mairi MacInnes contrasted the situation with the city centre, which had a 168 per cent decrease in antisocial behaviour and violence during the same period. She attributed the drop to the closures of pubs during lockdown.

Chief Inspector MacInnes said the situation in Merkinch had “stabilised”, adding there had been a reduction in violent crime each month since January.

“There will continue to be a police presence on the streets across Inverness with visible patrols, primarily foot and cycle patrols,” she said.

“As the hospitality industry reopens fully during May and the coming months, the impact on the city centre will be closely monitored.”

Inverness Central councillor and regional MSP Emma Roddick said: “I’m disappointed to see two communities being literally pitted against each other in official papers.

“Without comparisons with other areas of Inverness, it is impossible to comment on the situation in Merkinch, which has been singled out in this report.

“Covid has been difficult for us all, to different extents. Compassion and empathy are absolutely necessary for us to move forward with a better understanding of how easy it can be to fall into hard times.

“However, there is no reason that antisocial behaviour issues have to return just because pubs are open again.

“I hope that, as recovery allows us to lift restrictions on businesses, people will choose to treat our city centre with respect and promote Inverness as a friendly, welcoming place which is enjoyable to visit.”

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