Drug offences have risen sharply in Suffolk and Essex, the latest crime statistics have revealed.

East Anglian Daily Times: Both Suffolk Constabulary and Essex Police reported a decrease in burglary incidents (file photo) Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTOBoth Suffolk Constabulary and Essex Police reported a decrease in burglary incidents (file photo) Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO (Image: BrianAJackson)

Overall, crime rose by 4% in Suffolk in the year to March 2020 with 57,360 incidents reported, while in Essex it increased by 6% with 167,830 incidents recorded, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data released today.

Nationally there was a 1% rise in reported incidents,

The ONS data revealed drug offences soared in both counties, with Suffolk recording a jump of 27% to 1,769 and Essex a mammoth rise of 45% to 6,077.

There was also a significant rise in violence without injury in Suffolk with 21% more cases and a total of 10,361 cases, and possession of weapons where there was an increased of 17% to 555 cases. The number of sexual offences rose by 11% with a total of 2,605 offences.

However, burglary incidents fell in both Suffolk and Essex by 11% and 14% respectively, with 3,420 cases in Suffolk and 10,362 over the border.

The crime rate for Suffolk was recorded as 75.6 people per 100,000 households, with Essex’s figure of 91.6, both above the national average for England of 87.9.

The statistics were recorded between April 2019 and March 2020, meaning the coronavirus lockdown only affected a small proportion of the time frame.

MORE: Mapped: Every crime reported in Suffolk in May 2020

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Jones of Suffolk Constabulary said there is “often a lot of nuance” behind reasons for reported increases in certain types of crime and explained: “We have really stepped up our powers for stop and search in the last year. The largest number of searches are for drugs, so when we search more we will find more.

“The second highest number of items we recover from searches are weapons. This is more reflective of the work and money we have invested to keep our communities safe.”

He urged those who have been the victim of crime, particularly sexual assault or violent crime, to report incidents to help keep the county safe and added: “I feel confident that Suffolk is still a safe place to live and work. But it’s so important that we all play our part.”

An Essex Police spokesman: “There are fewer people in Essex who are victims of violence with injury offences, robbery, burglary, and theft than the average across England. “While the figures indicate crime was rising in the year to the end of March, the general trend we’ve seen over the last year is that, each month, that rise has become less and less, indicating we’re moving in the right direction.

“We continue to invest to support victims, protect vulnerable people, tackle violence, and increase visibility in your communities.”

Claire Jakeman, senior operations manager at substance abuse charity Turning Point Suffolk, added: “Turning Point continues to work in partnership with the police and other agencies to support people with drug and/or alcohol problems who are exploited by criminal gangs as part of this. In the six months before the pandemic, we were seeing increasing numbers of people coming into the service and successfully completing treatment.”

MORE: Rise in theft and weapons crime higher in Essex and Suffolk than nationally