Delight as county sees crime rates fall

CRIME rates have fallen by 2.5% in Suffolk over the past year, new figures have revealed.Police chiefs last night welcomed the 2004/05 figures, which showed significant drops in offences including robbery, domestic burglary and vehicle crime.

By Jonathan Barnes

CRIME rates have fallen by 2.5% in Suffolk over the past year, new figures have revealed.

Police chiefs last night welcomed the 2004/05 figures, which showed significant drops in offences including robbery, domestic burglary and vehicle crime.

But violent crime continues to be a concern, with a rise of about 10% over the year, and the number of anti-social behaviour incidents surpassed 8,700.


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Chief Constable Alistair McWhirter stressed tackling violent crime was a key priority but welcomed the drop in overall crime and pledged to make Suffolk the best performing force in the country.

There were 52,101 offences across the county in 2004/05, compared to 53,443 in 2003/04.

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The number of domestic burglaries dropped from 2,385 in 2003/04 to 1,787 - a fall of 25% - while detection rates for the offence improved from 19% to 21.1%.

Robbery offences fell 10% from 290 to 260 while vehicle crime dropped from 5,782 in 2003/04 to 5,463 in 2004/05.

But violent crime offences year-on-year rose by 7.4%, from 10,460 to 11,232, and detection rates fell from 65% to 63.3%.

Disorder offences rose from 17,127 to 18,508 while the number of anti-social behaviour incidents was 8,762 in 2004/05.

The number of people who said they felt very safe in the area where they live was 38.7%, a fall from the previous year's 45% and below the target of 46%.

Public satisfaction in the police response to 999 calls dropped from 72% to 67.5% - well below the target of 85%, but the number of calls answered within the target time rose from 80% to 86.7%.

Mr McWhirter said: “We now have more police officers than we have ever had in our history, as well as more police staff, new community support officers, the best equipment available and improved scientific support. And this investment has already shown results.”

He added the 25% reduction in burglaries was “particularly important” but said the force could not be complacent and still faced many challenges.

“Despite a high-profile campaign aimed at tackling violence in public places, violent crime rose again last year,” he said.

“We are continuing to work with our partners to make our town centres safer at night and to target anti-social behaviour.”

Mr McWhirter said the force hoped to build on the success of the Suffolk First programme, which has resulted in the county being rated statistically as the safest in England.

“In short, what we are saying is that simply being the safest is not enough, we want to go on to provide the people of this county with the best police service in the country,” he said.

A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary added: “The overall picture is extremely positive and shows that the police are working effectively with partner agencies and organisations to keep the county safe.

“We are seeing reductions in the key crime categories and at the same time maintaining one of the best detection rates in the country.

“However, violent crime has continued to rise and will remain a key priority for Suffolk Constabulary in the year ahead.”

Members of Suffolk Police Authority's best value committee will discuss the crime figures on June 13.

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