Cost of crime hits £139m in Suffolk

CRIME cost Suffolk almost £139million last year, shock new figures reveal.The amount has been revealed after a major audit of crime across Suffolk and shows for the first time the real cost of criminal behaviour to taxpayers.

CRIME cost Suffolk almost £139million last year, shock new figures reveal.

The amount has been revealed after a major audit of crime across Suffolk and shows for the first time the real cost of criminal behaviour to taxpayers.

The sum includes lost or damaged property, police time, money spent on security, insurance premiums and costs to employers of crime.

Ipswich accounts for just under a third of Suffolk's total crime bill, with offenders costing the town more than £40million during 2003-04.

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Crime in west Suffolk, which includes Stowmarket, Haverhill, Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds, and Haverhill, cost nearly £43.5m, while crime in Waveney was valued at almost £30million.

The total crime bill for Suffolk Coastal during 2003-04 was £13,451,972, while Babergh's crime levels cost more than £11million.

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The audit was carried out to help the county draw-up Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership strategies for the next three years. The results are in a report to the county council's caring and protecting panel, which contains the draft crime reduction plans for each district and borough.

Last night Suffolk police spokesman Simon Stevens said: "Suffolk is one of the safest counties in England and Wales and latest crime figures show not only a reduction in overall crime but also in key crime categories such as house burglary and vehicle crime.

"But even in a relatively safe county like Suffolk, crime does, of course, have a cost – both financial and emotional.

"Offenders make law-abiding people pay with their activities – whether as victims or taxpayers.

"Their activities should not be tolerated – and that is why it is so important for local communities to work with their local constabulary, and other criminal justice agencies, to provide the information that helps the police tackle those who cause so much misery and expense through breaking the law."

Crime agencies such as Suffolk police, district councils, Suffolk Fire Service, primary care trusts, Suffolk Police Authority, and the Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team have a duty to work together to address crime and the misuse of drugs as part of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

Every three years, the partnership is required to carry out an audit to identify the severity of problems in each area and develop a plan to deal with them.

The partnerships all share a goal to reduce the British Crime Survey recorded crime levels by March 2008, reduce anti social behaviour by 2008 and reduce the harm that drugs and alcohol cause to communities.

Last night Suffolk's Chief Prosecutor Chris Yule, who is also chairman of the Suffolk Criminal Justice Board, said: "The CPS and the Criminal Justice Board recognise that not only is there a financial cost of crime in paying for the police, courts, prosecutors, and legal aid, but the emotional cost to the community is high.

"Even in this county, where overall crime levels are falling and we have one of the best performing police forces and strong inter-agency working producing consistently good results, it is important to build public confidence in the local criminal justice system."

Peter Monk, county councillor and portfolio holder for public protection, added: "The cost of crime in Suffolk certainly seems formidable and reflects the sheer scale of the problem.

"And although these strategies still have to be approved by full council in April, they do show how closely and purposively all the partners are working together to tackle crime and disorder."

A meeting will be held to discuss the strategies on March 3.

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