By Harry Webster
Anti-social behaviour and crime rates in Cathays, Cardiff’s student centre, have remained higher than in neighbouring districts, according to new crime statistics for the last year.
The district, which has a population of approximately 23,000, playing host to many of Cardiff’s students, saw the highest crime rate of Cardiff districts in August 2016, while also seeing unparalleled reports of anti-social behaviour during the last year.
Of the 30,191 incidences of anti-social behaviour (ASB), that were reported by South Wales police between September 2015 and August 2016, 2,086 were recorded in Cathays alone, equating to approximately 7 per cent of the total reported incidences.
In terms of the district itself, this equates to roughly 1 report of ASB for every 10 people living in the area, while its nearest rival, Butetown, which only has an approximate population of 10,000, sees this ratio diminish by almost half to 1 incidence for every 20 people living in the area.
However, despite the number of incidences remaining proportionately high, the district did see a marginal drop in the number of reported ASB incidences, falling by 6.9 per cent from 2,240 incidences during the year between September 2014 and August 2015.
ASB, an offence which police define as partaking in a ‘wide range of unacceptable activities, which can cause harm to individuals and their community’, often includes drinking offences, leading some to link the high number of reported incidences in Cathays, to its dense student population.
The figure can also be related to the areas vast homeless population, with begging and vagrancy also falling under the confines of ASB.
Gair Rhydd last year reported that homelessness in Cardiff had increased by more than a half in the two-year period between October 2013 and October 2015, after many cities across the UK began to implement aggressive anti-homeless policies. Such an increase can therefore be linked to the cities high number of anti-social behaviour reports, with Cathays in particular being one of the Welsh capital’s most affected areas.
Cathays also accounted for 4 per cent of South Wales Police’s total reported burglaries and robberies, with 313 incidents being reported between September 2015 and August 2016. This marked a drop from the 421 reported incidences in the previous year by roughly 25 per cent.
However, despite the drop, Joseph Bennie, a third year geology student, whose Cathays residence was burgled in June 2015, said he felt student’s were ‘vulnerable’ to such crimes.
Speaking exclusively to Gair Rhydd, Mr Bennie said: “Most students live in houses, with lots of tenants, each owning personal valuables such as laptops, as well as having more communal valuables, like games consoles.
“Students can be naive to the dangers of burglary. It’s down to the landlords to ensure houses are properly protected.”
And yet, in light of this contention, Mr Bennie commended the police response to his crime, stating: “The police were helpful as they responded pretty quickly, and put a lot of time into taking statements and looking at the crime scene.
“Despite not being able to recover our stolen items, the police did as much as they could in the circumstances.”
A spokesman for South Wales Police told Gair Rhydd that it is down to students to help protect themselves from such crimes by taking “all reasonable precautions to make sure premises are secure, locking all doors and windows, and making sure valuables are kept out of sight.”
This comes after South Wales police last year warned students to be ‘vigilant’ when leaving their property for a night out, after it was thought taxi drivers, picking up students to go into town, reported empty houses to potential burglars.
The figures also show that the area saw high levels of shoplifting, and violent crime, while additionally displaying that crime was more prevalent during autumn and winter.