Firearm offences fall in Suffolk

CRIMES involving firearms in Suffolk have fallen by 28% in a year - a drop of more than twice the national average, new figures have revealed.

Russell Claydon

CRIMES involving firearms in Suffolk have fallen by 28% in a year - a drop of more than twice the national average, new figures have revealed.

Police last night welcomed the new Home Office figures but said they would continue to be vigilant against the use of dangerous weapons.

There were 42 crimes involving a firearm - excluding airguns - in 2006-7 in Suffolk, compared to 58 in 2005-6.

Firearms are recorded as involved in a crime if they are fired, used as a blunt instrument against a person, or used as a threat, the Home Office said.

The figures include the use of imitation weapons, rifles, shotguns and handguns, as well as CS gas and pepper spray.

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Suffolk Constabulary said the large decrease in the county reflected their pro-active approach to the problem.

A spokesperson said: “These figures are consistent with the general crime levels in the county - overall crime is falling and the level of violent crime is also dropping year on year.

“This is extremely positive. However, we are not complacent and will continue to target those people who commit crime.

“Our communities have a crucial part to play. By passing information on to us they can help to make Suffolk an even safer place to live.”

“Anyone with information about the illegal use of firearms, should call Suffolk Constabulary on 01473 613500, or in an emergency call 999.”

Overall crime in Suffolk fell by more than 5% between April and December 2007.

This included a 7% decrease in violent crime, which dropped by 631 offences.

In Essex the use of firearms dropped from 280 to 255 from 2005-6 to 2006-7 - a decrease of 9%.

A spokesman said: “Essex police is pleased to see that offences involving firearms have decreased and we will be doing our best to reduce them further.

“Firearms are only involved in a very small number of offences, although their use can produce tragic results.”

He added effective intelligence and suitable punishments were the two main methods of preventing their use.

The biggest drop in the east of England was in Cambridgeshire, with a decrease of 29%.

Hertfordshire saw a fall of 22% while the figure for Bedfordshire was 17%.

Meanwhile, Norfolk saw an increase in the use of firearms, up 17% from 2005-6 to 2006-7.

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