Fear of crime stalked households during Covid lockdown

Tesco volunteer helping food distribution when pandemic began in 2020

Tesco volunteer helping food distribution when pandemic began in 2020 - Credit: Madeleine Penfold

Crime and anti-social behaviour were among the biggest worries by East End families during the height of the pandemic, according to a town hall survey. 

Yet the “community spirit which defines the East End is alive and well”, according to the findings by Tower Hamlets Council to help plan the recovery. 

Three out of four people said they were “satisfied” with their neighbourhood as a place to live.  

Volunteers rally to help community with food on Isle of Dogs during height of pandemic.

Volunteers rally to help the community with food on the Isle of Dogs during the height of the pandemic - Credit: Island Network

Slightly under one in five had volunteered at least once in the last 12 months; they sprung into action looking out for neighbours and joining support groups since the outbreak, the survey found. 

But 47 per cent of respondents were worried about crime, one in three worried about housing and a quarter concerned about street cleaning and litter.  

Mayor John Biggs... "Not a happy time because of Covid, but people pulled together."

Mayor John Biggs... "Not a happy time because of Covid, but people pulled together" - Credit: Mike Brooke

Meanwhile, Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs has agreed the first round of a Covid Recovery Fund, with £500,000 to help support communities affected by the pandemic. 

“It has been an extremely challenging past year,” Mayor Biggs said. “But coming out of such a difficult period is important for us to understand how community needs may have changed through the recovery.  

“It was not a happy time with so many people at home and much of the council closed down or restricted because of Covid. But people pulled together."

Foodbank volunteer at charity premises during preparation and delivery of food.

Foodbank volunteer at charity premises during preparation and delivery of food, September 2020. - Credit: Gustavo Valiente/Parsons Media

The council introduced its “community champions” scheme during lockdown, which has attracted 3,000 volunteers so far.  

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The town hall’s helpline has dealt with 20,000 calls since March last year while £1million has been handed out in grants to help vulnerable residents. 

The Mid-Pandemic Survey found people are “happy with nurseries and schools”, with 70pc rating nursery provision as good and 69pc rating schools as good.  

Tower Hamlets Council was unable to carry out its usual annual questionnaire due to Covid-19 restrictions and had to make do with this mid-pandemic telephone survey of 1,000 householders.  

The results, taken in February and March during the third lockdown but released in June, cannot be compared to previous annual face-to-face surveys, the council says.

This is because many services were disrupted by the pandemic, either closed entirely or reduced as staff were off sick, self-isolating or redeployed to respond to the emergency.  

The last annual survey held in 2019 involved face-to-face data collecting, which can only resume when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted completely.