September 3 2014 Latest news:
Jon Vale West Suffolk reporter
Thursday, April 17, 2014
A rural community in the midst of a crime wave has accused police of taking up to four days to respond to victims - some of whom are in their 90s.
Members of Beck Row Parish Council voiced major doubts over Suffolk Constabulary’s response to a spate of burglaries in Holywell Row, with claims that police failed to respond to initial reports and officers were taking days to visit the scene.
A force spokesman last night said they were stepping up patrols in the area, while the county’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore has asked for an immediate review of cover across Forest Heath.
Council chairman Gary Peachey claimed that police had been taking up to four days to visit victims after the burglaries happened, adding that two victims were in their 90s and one in their 80s.
“They’ve been really worried because they haven’t seen anybody. That doesn’t seem good enough,” he said.
“There’s a crime wave hitting the village, and this needs resources thrown at it. A bit more visibility through the street wouldn’t go amiss.”
Local Pc Brian Glancy told the council’s latest meeting that crime was down by 59% across the force’s Brandon area.
However, councillor Philip Haylock countered: “But that isn’t the case in Holywell Row - it’s up.
“I’m not interested in overall, I’m interested in Holywell Row, because that’s where I live. Recently, there was no more than seven in a year. Now we’ve had seven in a month.
“This has been a recurring theme for a long time, where we get a police presence come to these meetings and they say ‘oh, crime’s going down 50%’, and all this sort of stuff. We’ve heard it loads of times, but it doesn’t actually appear to be the case to those of us that live in these places.”
Holywell Row has been hit by seven burglaries and thefts in the past month, with six in neighbouring Beck Row.
Mr Haylock said the crimes were happening at properties that backed onto fields at around 8-9pm - “not an unreasonable time to expect to see some police presence”, he added.
Pc Glancy said that police did go on patrol around the village, but it was up to control rooms to allocate resources.
The Brandon neighbourhood team has an inspector, a sergeant, three constables and six PCSOs to cover an area made up of Brandon and 11 other villages, including Holywell Row. They are supported by response officers based at Mildenhall Police Station.
Pc Glancy said: “Obviously the last month or so, Holywell Row has been hit quite hard, so we will look at that and allocate resources. Whether you see them or not, they will be out and about.
“The problem is you’ve only got a limited number of resources and officers in the Forest Heath area. Two arrests, and that’s four officers gone - that’s how quickly the resources go.”
Mr Peachey also claimed that police only responded to his call about a suspicious car after he told them he was a member of the council.
“Had I been Joe Bloggs ringing up, I’d have been fobbed off, and that wasn’t good enough,” he added.
Mr Passmore said that extra money had been invested in two dedicated rural police teams, adding: “I am disappointed to hear that this area has been targeted, and I will be asking the Chief Constable to review the policing cover in the Forest Heath area immediately.
“It is imperative that citizens report all crime and suspicious behaviour, and I will be seeking total reassurance from the Chief Constable that their reports are taken seriously and followed up.”
A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary said it takes burglary “very seriously”, adding: “Our Safer Neighbourhood Teams aim to be a visible presence in all communities in the county, particularly when there is an issue in one area.
“We recognise that there has been a spate of burglaries in Hollywell Row and will do what we can to allocate our resources to the area to try and prevent further incidents.”