Crime levels fall in Suffolk

CRIME in Suffolk plummeted to its lowest level in fours years last month during the unprecedented investigation into the killings of five Ipswich women, it has emerged.

By Danielle Nuttall

CRIME in Suffolk plummeted to its lowest level in fours years last month during the unprecedented investigation into the killings of five Ipswich women, it has emerged.

Jacqui Cheer, Assistant Chief Constable, told members of Suffolk Police Authority's monitoring and audit committee that almost 100 fewer burglaries were reported in December than usual.

The police chief put the fall down to the huge number of extra police officers on the streets.

“There is a direct correlation with flooding Suffolk with people and less crime,” she said.

More than 360 police officers and staff from 31 forces were initially drafted in to help police investigating the deaths of Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 25, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

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When they arrived, overall crime fell from 4,365 in December 2005 to 3,779 (-13.4%)

Domestic burglary also dropped by 47.5%, from 160 in December 2005 to 84 last month, while vehicle crime fell by 22.7% (from 476 to 368).

During the same period, the number of 999 calls increase by 4% (376 calls) - 96% of which were answered in 10 seconds - while non-emergency calls increased by 22% (2,629).

Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Cheer said: “I believe that the people of Suffolk will take heart from these figures as it shows that despite the exceptional demand placed on us during December when we where investigating seven separate killings (the deaths of five young women from Ipswich, the murder of a man outside Zest nightclub and the death of a man in Bury St Edmunds) we have continued to provide the quality of service that the people of Suffolk expect and deserve.

“I believe that is a real credit to those officers and staff who continued to police Suffolk while their colleagues were committed to the various investigations. They have continued to provide such a high-level of service to the county.”

She added: “Finally it goes almost without saying that the support we have had from our mutual aid partners has had a significant impact. The presence of more officers on the streets provides both reassurance and a deterrent and as we move back towards normality is an effect that we hope to retain through the introduction of the Safer Neighbourhood Teams.”

During the meeting, it also emerged how the force had dramatically improved its frontline policing performance and was on course to hit its targets at the end of 2006-7.

Frontline duties include attendance at crime scenes, compiling case files for court, responding to incidents, community work and visibility patrols.

The force's rate had been the fifth lowest in the country during 2005/06, with officers spending just 59.5% of their time on the frontline - below the authority's target of 67%.

Part of the problem was due to the way the forms were being filled out, with officers not being able to categorise their duties.

But the Assistant Chief Constable said the latest figures were much more encouraging, and said the force is now likely to end the financial year at 67.5%, which will put it in the top quarter of the country.