The “significant weakening” of social distancing guidelines mean the Covid-19 lockdown has “pretty much ended” for criminals, a deputy mayor has said.
Greater Manchester’s Beverley Hughes said organised crime and other offences were on the increase across the region.
She said groups who had been “dormant” now felt they had a “signal” from the government to decide for themselves “what is appropriate to do”.
The Home Office has been approached for comment.
Speaking at a press conference on the region’s response to Covid-19 covered by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Ms Hughes said lockdown had “pretty much ended, certainly for organised crime and other people whose criminal activities have been dormant in recent weeks”.
She added that the increase in activity was down to the “contradictory” public health message, which now put social distancing responsibility on to the individual.
“What we’ve seen over recent days is, in my view, a consequence of a significant weakening of the government’s messaging on what people need to do to stay safe.
“Certain groups in our community, maybe young people but not only young people, now feel that the signal has come from the government that they can now decide for themselves what is appropriate to do.”
She said a “significant” number of vulnerable children, who might otherwise have been supported by school or social workers, had also fallen off the radar during lockdown, leaving them at risk of being drawn into crime.
She added that all crime had risen steadily across the region, including organised crime involving firearms and serious assaults, as well as anti-social behaviour, and said Greater Manchester Police had responded to several large gatherings and raves over the weekend, where officers found it “difficult” to intervene.