Police car
Photo: Daisy Graham-Brown

Cathays crime rates rise as Covid restrictions ease

Area suffers a 78% increase in crime over past year while levels in other areas of Cardiff remain steady

RECENT crime data shows that recorded crimes in Cathays rose by 78% between December 2020 and November 2021.

Figures from South Wales Police indicate that crime in the Cathays ward – which includes both the residential area of Cathays and the city centre – is returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Other parts of Cardiff, such as Grangetown, Butetown, Ely, Splott, and Plasnewydd have all maintained or have seen decreasing crime levels over the same period.

“We have very little sleep due to disturbance outside both night and day – and I’m prescribed medication for my sleep,” said Alison Pollard, 49, who has lived in Cathays for 24 years.

“On the whole I would say that crime and anti-social behaviour have increased over the year.

“We have had many experiences including criminal damage to cars, my husband being punched by an intoxicated student, and at a different time another intoxicated student tried to climb into my car – my 17-year-old daughter had to pull him out.”

Cathays had 455 crimes recorded in December 2020, which rose to 811 in November 2021.

A spokesperson for South Wales Police said: “The Cathays ward includes Cardiff city centre where, as you would expect, crime levels have been greatly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Historical data for the city centre shows between 750 and 860 crimes a month. Therefore, it would appear that following lockdown, the numbers have returned to normal.”

Cathays is the only neighbourhood in Cardiff to experience a significant increase in crime over the past year.

Norma Mackie, Labour councillor for Cathays, said: “We have obviously had concerns – especially the particularly serious crimes we’ve had lately – which is very unusual for Cardiff, especially having so many so close together.

“We have had conversations with the police about what is going on, but they knew these crimes were linked to certain things and so they didn’t think that there was a general increase in crimes.

“In terms of particularly serious crimes, often they come under the city centre area which is within the same boundary ward for Cathays and, as restrictions eased towards the end of the year, crimes in the city centre – with people coming out of bars and clubs – did increase.”

Violence and sexual offences have made up 20% of crimes in Cathays over the last three years, but in November 2021 that number rose to 32%.

Although crime rates in the residential area of Cathays have fallen, the city centre part of the ward has shot up – and residents are feeling the effects.

Natalie Cowley, 34, has lived in Cathays for 11 years and said: “I still feel safe in the area during the day but in the past year, especially after the recent reports from women, I would definitely say I am more cautious walking around at night and I will always get a taxi home now.

“I have also definitely noticed a rise in noise and litter in the area. I would go as far as to say that it’s been the worst it’s ever been over the past two years.”

Similarly, Edward Harding, 26, who has lived in Cathays for three years, said: “I would say that I’ve not noticed much crime in Cathays until recently when, during the lead up to Christmas, I saw a lot of car windows smashed – including my own car in December.”

Coun Mackie explained: “Over the lockdown when students were living in Cathays, we had an increase in complaints over anti-social behaviour, parties and people breaking Covid rules.

“There’s all sorts of issues around crime in Cardiff – particularly knife crime among younger age groups – and it’s difficult to get to the bottom of it, which is why we’ve got multi-agency teams working on prevention.”