Crime falls for first time in five years

CRIME has fallen in Suffolk for the first time in five years, latest figures have revealed.Police chiefs welcomed the figures, which showed the total number of recorded crimes in 2002/2003 fell by 0.

CRIME has fallen in Suffolk for the first time in five years, latest figures have revealed.

Police chiefs welcomed the figures, which showed the total number of recorded crimes in 2002/2003 fell by 0.4% compared to the previous year – a drop of 177 crimes from 50,492 to 50,315.

During the same period the number of offences detected rose by 2% to 34.5% showing that almost 1,000 more crimes were solved compared to 2001/2002.

But violent crime rose by 8.1% and disorder incidents by 12.6% and drugs offences soared by 34.2%.

Suffolk Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter said: "I am extremely encouraged by these figures, which indicate that Suffolk is becoming a safer place. Overall crime is down and more offences are being detected, which shows that we are making steady progress towards Suffolk First – the aim of making the county the safest in England and Wales by 2006.

"The figures also show that we have work to do, particularly in reducing violent crime. But we must ensure that our success in tackling offences such as burglary, which causes so much distress to its victims, continues."

Most Read

Research showed that a vast majority of violent crime, which rose to 8,786 offences from 8,127, happens in a public place.

Det Chief Supt Peter Worobec said: "The rise in violent crime is disappointing but, after consecutive rises of 18.2% and 16.2%, it shows that the trend is in the right direction.

"Research conducted by Suffolk Constabulary shows that 59% of all violent crime occurs in a public place, and that nearly 40% occurs while people are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"The focus of activity during the coming year will be to reduce violent crime on our streets by continuing high-profile police operations such as Nighthawk and Nightsafe in Lowestoft while working in partnership with others, including local pubs and clubs."

Drugs offences rose to 1,636 from 1,292 but according to Mr Worobec the increase may not be as severe as it looks.

He said: "The rise in drugs offences should not be taken as a sign that there are more drugs in circulation, but as an indication of the focus and efforts made by Suffolk Police over the past year to take drugs and drug dealers off our streets, ridding our communities of the misery that accompanies them."

The rise in disorder offences, including drunkeness, domestic incidents and disturbances in licensed premises, rose to 19,761 from 17,552 - more than 5,000 offences above the police targets.

Police bosses claim the increase is due to changes in the way of recording offences.

Liz Pettman, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said: "We now record everything that comes in, so even if it is just a member of the public calling for advice about a neighbourly dispute, then it would be classed as disorder.

"I believe the rise is due more to the crime recording system than to any additional disorder in the community – certainly, disorder has not been brought to our attention as being a problem."

Mr McWhirter said: "In the year ahead, we will continue to recruit more front-line police officers to join those already conducting extra-high visibility patrols to provide reassurance on the streets of our towns and villages.

"Improvement in scientific support will continue – and we are now in the position to improve other vital support areas to give our staff the best operational tools while improving our service to local people.

"I am excited about the year ahead. Positive work over the last couple of years has built us a strong platform and we are now in a good position to go forward and achieve Suffolk First."