Concerns over rising tide of crime

A LEADING police officer has revealed how some violent crimes have jumped by nearly 46% in just 12 months, in a market town where it is believed heroin and cocaine are circulating.

A LEADING police officer has revealed how some violent crimes have jumped by nearly 46% in just 12 months, in a market town where it is believed heroin and cocaine are circulating.

Det Chief Insp Jon Brighton, crime manager at Western Area Headquarters, presented the Stowmarket crime statistics for April 2003 to the end of last month to town councillors, during their meeting in the community's Milton Road.

Mr Brighton, who was inspector for the mid Suffolk sector before his recent promotion, revealed assaults involving actual bodily harm and common assault, had leapt from 145 to 212, a 46% rise.

Criminal damage has soared from 258 incidents to 316, a jump of 22% in a year; burglaries from homes was also up, from 40 to 48; and theft from motor vehicles has increased from 58 to 65.


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Mr Brighton also revealed that there had been cocaine seized from town centre entertainment venues, and ecstasy and cannabis has been found in the town. Although there was no heroin found last year, he believes it is available in the town, albeit not in large quantities.

But problems with drunkenness fell from 17 to nine; burglaries from buildings, which are not homes, such as garages and sheds, dropped dramatically from 86 to 50. Theft from motor vehicles remained unchanged at 13.

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Mr Brigton added: "The main drug in use in mid Suffolk is cannabis, we had 38 seizures of that. It does quite concern us if there is violence on the streets and my feeling is that in the summer there was an increase in violence in the town centre.''

He said police would target the town centre earlier in the year and added that he felt more people were reporting criminal damage than they had done before, but there had also been a real rise.

Barry Salmon, town mayor, said he appreciated the officer's frankness and is concerned at the rise in assaults.

He added: "We are also particularly concerned with low level crime, vandalism. Vandalism in the town centre, we believe, leads to a town feeling uncared for, things like seats being up rooted, windows broken, signs pulled up.

"It's stupid, serves no purpose and costs the town council an enormous amount of money to put right.''

Town councillor Duncan Macpherson was also concerned about the rise in assaults and criminal damage.

Mr Brighton who thanked the town council for their support during his time serving the community, said that the figures have yet to be officially audited by the constabulary's headquarters and are approximate to the nearest couple of crimes.

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