Crime rise setback in Suffolk

POLICE chiefs in Suffolk trying to make the county the safest in England received a setback last night after it was revealed crime is on the increase.New figures reveal there was a large rise in violent crime between April and June and a decrease in detecting those responsible for it.

By Richard Smith

POLICE chiefs in Suffolk trying to make the county the safest in England received a setback last night after it was revealed crime is on the increase.

New figures reveal there was a large rise in violent crime between April and June and a decrease in detecting those responsible for it. The number of burglaries and criminal damage cases have also gone up.

The overall crime level rose by 4.6% for the three-month period – an extra 602 offences were recorded compared to the same period last year.


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Last night, Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter said problems areas would be tackled, but insisted Suffolk was still a safe place in which to live and work.

He added: "The Suffolk First initiative, aimed at making Suffolk the safest county in the country by 2006, is still on track. Last year we leapt up five places to become the third safest county in the country and with the support of our partner agencies, we will continue our drive to achieve the top slot.

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''While the figures for burglary (93 additional offences reported) and violent crime (159 additional offences reported) for the first quarter of this year, are disappointing, this does not mean that we will not achieve our goal.''

He said the large falls vehicle crime and public disorder showed specific campaigns targeting these categories were successful.

"We constantly review our performance and will be allocating resources to deal with problem areas, as they are identified," he added.

The force is aiming to increase the level of high visibility patrols and make officers more accessible to the public in a bid to reduce offences.

Two weeks ago the Home Office said that Suffolk was the third safest county in England and Wales and the overall crime level had fallen from 50,492 offences in 2001/02 to 50,315 in 2002/03. Suffolk had the lowest levels of house burglary and vehicle crimes in England.

But figures unveiled to Suffolk Police Authority's monitoring and audit committee showed that domestic burglaries had risen by 17% since April.

''Whilst this is disappointing given recent efforts to tackle this type of offence, it is too early in the year to know whether this trend will continue,'' said Mr McWhirter's committee report.

Vehicle crime fell by 9.2% and the number of thefts of vehicles was reduced by 24.5%, while violent crime committed in a public place rose more than 13%. Offences of robbery and sexual offences decreased by 20.3% and 8.2% respectively.

The detection rate for all violent crime was nearly 64.5% and had fallen from 70.2% compared with the same period last year.

"Although disappointed by this, the Constabulary is confident that performance will improve during the year, given the importance placed on violent crime committed in a public place within the 'Suffolk First' initiative," said the Chief Constable.

Criminal damage rose by nearly 6% and public disorder fell by almost 3%. Suffolk is now expected to have one of the lowest levels of disorder in the country.

The east of Suffolk has had a drop of 80 offences in disorder and the force believes this is due to the impact of community police officers working in specific locations, the use of the Youth Nuisance Register and the imposition of anti social behaviour orders by courts.

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