TENSIONS flared between neighbours during lockdown as people were told to stay in their homes.

Crime figures recorded in Sussex since March show an increase of 196 per cent in reports of neighbourhood disputes during lockdown months.

In April, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne awarded a three-year £200,000 contract to Sussex Mediation Alliance to provide an alternative to the criminal justice route for such disputes.

The organisation supported 693 people to resolve issues ranging from noise complaints to harassment and parking disagreements, with many of these incidents coming during lockdown.

Mrs Bourne said: “We always knew that lockdown and the added stresses and pressures of this pandemic were going to have a negative effect upon many people’s home life. In some cases, the lockdown restrictions have amplified residents’ frustrations, which they have then, unfortunately, taken out on each other.

“We have also seen a spike in reports of ‘antisocial behaviour’ as many neighbours called to notify police of large gatherings and neighbourhood ‘parties’.”

Sussex Police have released an anonymous example of the alliance’s work during lockdown.

A spokesman said: “Mr and Mrs A have been living in their house in Sussex for five years.

“The B family moved in next door 18 months ago and started doing some DIY to make the garden a safe space for the children during lockdown.

“Mrs A, who is often ill and stays at home, was very upset by the noise and so went out to speak to her neighbour.

“This quickly turned into a very heated discussion with shouting and strong language across the garden wall. The B family called the police as they felt threatened.

“A police officer suggested a referral to the mediation service, which all parties agreed to.

“During the mediation meeting both Mrs A and Mr B were able to talk directly to each other with the mediator’s support and express how the situation had been affecting them. The joint meeting enabled a plan to be put in place to co-operate as the work continued, so that their lives could be lived as normally as possible.”