Crime has increased by eight percent over the last year in Suffolk- with notable rises in bicycle thefts and shoplifting- according to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In total, there were 52,534 recorded offences in the year to December 2022, an increase of eight percent on the equivalent period in 2021, while there were 658 bike thefts- a rise of 22% on 2021 and 3,114 shoplifting offences- 30% more than the previous year.

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Incidents involving violence have also gone up, with 6,328 reports of violence with injury- a 16% rise, while there were 10,307 offences involving violence without injury- an uptick of 13% on 2021.

East Anglian Daily Times: Deputy Chief Constable Rob Jones said police were looking at front line policingDeputy Chief Constable Rob Jones said police were looking at front line policing (Image: Suffolk Constabulary)

Meanwhile, possession of a weapon rose by 35%.

However, the headline figure was in line with the national average, with an eight percent rise across England and Wales, although there was only a one percent rise nationally in bike thefts and 22% for shoplifting.

On the positive side, there were decreases in burglaries, which went down -4% on 2021 and vehicle crime, which witnessed a drop of -4%, while drug offences were also down.

Rob Jones, deputy chief constable of Suffolk Police, said the COVID-19 pandemic and cost-of-living crisis had affected the figures, with virus-induced restrictions ending during 2022.

East Anglian Daily Times: Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim PassmoreSuffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore (Image: SPCC)

He said: "Nationally, every police force in England and Wales has had increases in crime and it is because of the impact of COVID and people being more out.

"One of the biggest areas of rise is public order offences because that is associated with the night time economy and people going out more.

"Shoplifting is related to people going out, but may also be linked to the cost of living and the pressure on people in terms of theft and we work with all our town centres to make sure they are safe from retail crime."

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With regard to bike thefts, he believed thieves were stealing them 'opportunistically' because they were a high value item and police were advising owners to use a strong lock to secure their bikes, as well as leaving them in designated spaces or in places with CCTV coverage.

He added there had been a recruitment drive within the force, which had seen the number of officers increase from 1,365 at the end of 2021 to around 1,420 now, although training them took time and therefore their presence would not be felt immediately.

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However, he said there was a drive to increase the visibility of police in communities across Suffolk and improve engagement.

He added: "We are aware of the importance of making sure that we have got a police presence everywhere.

"We have got a project at the moment to look at front line policing, we call it 'looking at our operating model'. We are looking to maximise our presence and engage with different parts of the county."

He said the police would be telling the public how the new officers would be used and what impact they would have.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said while he was concerned about the rises in shoplifting and bicycle thefts, the county was nonetheless the seventh lowest overall for crime per 1,000 population in England and Wales.

He also highlighted work that was being done to tackle crime, including officer recruitment and 'Kestrel' response teams that have been set up to deploy into certain areas to target crime and engage with communities.

He reiterated DCC Jones' comments about the time needed to train recruits before they can be deployed to the front line.

"We are not in any way complacent on issues like shoplifting and theft, but these crimes have got to be put into the context of everything else that is going on and that does not always come out.

"We have got the seventh lowest level of recorded crime in the country and I would not want people to think that Suffolk is a dangerous place, because it is not," Mr Passmore added.