Call for ‘beefed up’ police presence following fatal Ipswich stabbing
PUBLISHED: 14:53 04 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:01 04 June 2018
Ipswich’s MP has called on police to ‘beef up’ resources as violent crime becomes a ‘serious issue’ for the town.
Sandy Martin highlighted a ‘clear correlation’ between real-term spending on the police and a rise in crime, after the fatal stabbing of a teenage boy on Saturday.
The 17-year-old, Tavis Spencer-Aitkens, died following an attack in Packard Avenue at about 4.50pm.
Five males, aged 16, 18, 20, 22 and 41, have been arrested in connection with the incident, while additional police patrols continue to be carried out in the area.
Mr Martin said he and borough council leader David Ellesmere had urged the police to put more resources into policing Ipswich.
“Although there has been some improvement since last year, I still don’t believe the police have got the balance right, or that the government is putting enough into policing in Suffolk,” he said.
“The police, themselves, have made that point to the government and still, nothing is happening.
“Cuts in funding have resulted in an increase in crime – and that, tragically, has resulted in a young man losing his life.
“I will be renewing calls on the government, but the police must beef up resources at its disposal.
“The correlation between a lack of real-term spending and an increase in crime is quite clear.
“People think of Suffolk as a relatively safe county, but by head of population, Ipswich has a serious issue with violent crime.”
On Monday, Ipswich Academy held an assembly in memory of the victim – a former pupil.
Principal Helen Winn said his death had profoundly affected students and staff.
“The thoughts of everyone in our school are with his family and those who were close to him,” she said.
“The safety of our students is of paramount importance to me and my team. It is for this reason that we regularly talk to the students about issues like knife crime and how to stay safe.
“We also work very closely with the police and other local organisations to ensure that our students are aware of any risks and know how best to respond.”
Detectives believe the attack was targeted, while witnesses reported the victim being approached and attacked by two males on bicycles as he walked from the shops in Queen’s Way.
They were then joined other males, who further assaulted him, before all fled the scene.
Emergency services, including the air ambulance and a police helicopter, were sent to the scene following reports that a teenager had been stabbed.
He was taken to Ipswich Hospital but died as a result of his injuries.
Police are keen to hear from for anyone with CCTV, dash cam or mobile phone footage from the area of Queen’s Way, Packard Avenue, Rands Way or Kingsway, between 12pm and 7.45pm on Saturday.
Anyone with information should call the major investigation team on 101 quoting reference CAD 306 of June 2.
Alternatively call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Dr Paul Andell, senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Suffolk, said the response to Saturday’s killing should involve targeted enforcement – but that tackling wider knife crime must be informed by communities.
“The long-term approach should involve a certain amount of targeted enforcement,” he said, as local leaders prepared to address concerns of local people during a public meeting at Nansen Road Baptist Church on Monday night.
“At the same time, we need to dispel myths and equip young people to make good choices.
“We must allow communities to provide real-time feedback.
“It needs to happen in a focused way – in specific neighbourhoods, with communities and the third sector.”
Last month, Suffolk was revealed among the majority of areas to see a year-on-year drop in the use of stop-and-search powers – labelled “a blunt tool” when exerted without good intelligence and reasonable grounds.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Justice statistics showed just seven of the 109 people convicted in Suffolk courts of weapons possession received at least 12 months in prison last year – although new guidelines have just come in for minimum six-month sentences.
The Office for National Statistics suggests a national rise in knife crime – particularly with young people – although they make up a fifth of convictions.
Dr Andell said perpetrators often lived in very insecure circumstances, within a broader culture of masculinity and what it means to be ‘somebody’.
He added: “While sentences have increased over the last five years, so has knife crime, so ideas around deterrents are complex.
“While there needs to be a proportionate response, the message needs to be that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.
“Whether or not the recent reduction in stop-and-search has correlated with a rise in knife crime remains to be seen. What is certain is that stop-and-search needs to be intelligence led. The community should inform the police and have confidence in enforcement agencies.
“Homicide accounts for about 6% of knife-related crime, but that doesn’t diminish that the effects of carrying a knife can be lethal.
“Yes, there is cause for concern if this type of crime is related to broader social networks, but in this case, it was said to have been targeted, so moral panic should be avoided.”