Neighbour complaints top 3,000 a year

NEIGHBOURS from hell have prompted more than 6,000 complaints to Suffolk Police in the past two years.

According to constabulary figures officers responded to 3,141 reports of harassment or victimisation in 2009 relating to people living next door or in the neighbourhood. This was slightly up from the previous year when there were 3,027 complaints.

One of the force’s top priorities for this year is anti-social behaviour. Top officers say the feedback from the public is that it is an extremely important issue.

The county’s police see the role being played by its safer neighbourhood teams as an important weapon in quelling troublesome neighbours.

Inspector Mark Lewis, of the south-east and north-east Ipswich Safer Neighbourhood Teams, said a lot of positive work is being done to ensure victims of neighbourhood problems are given the help the need.

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He added advice and help is also being given to the offenders, some of whom risk losing their homes if they persist in causing problems.

Insp Lewis said: “We have prioritised anti-social behaviour because it leads to a lot of other things.

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“If we can deal with low-level problems we gain greater community confidence.

“What we have seen here is that there is a turnaround in that we have teams on the patch all of the time. We get to know individuals who cause anti-social behaviour or suffer from it, and we have also got a bit more confidence in people reporting it in the first place.

“We look at things from the perspective of the victim. The impact it can have is almost permanently living under threat. Perhaps it is damage to property, perhaps it is physical or verbal threats. It is constant.

“It is the same mentality as the school playground bully. If a bully spots a weakness and can keep on exploiting it, the person who suffers doesn’t have a very nice life.”

Insp Lewis said police work with other agencies such as Ipswich Borough Council’s housing department to ensure troublemakers either behave or removed from the area.

If all other avenues fail they could be relocated or even lose their homes if they are in council accommodation.

Insp Lewis said: “If we threaten them with that an awful lot of people change their behaviour or attitude.”

He added alcohol, drugs or the family environment can all be factors in people causing trouble in their community. Therefore police work jointly with other organisations work to provide help and support where necessary to those who are at the root of the trouble.

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