Police chief's delight at crime figures

SUFFOLK has maintained its position as the third safest county in England, according to the latest crime figures published today.The data released by the Home Office shows Suffolk Constabulary is also in joint first place for crime detection and had the lowest recorded crime levels in the region during 2003-4.

By Danielle Nuttall

SUFFOLK has maintained its position as the third safest county in England, according to the latest crime figures published today.

The data released by the Home Office shows Suffolk Constabulary is also in joint first place for crime detection and had the lowest recorded crime levels in the region during 2003-4.

Last night, Suffolk's Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter said he was “absolutely delighted” with the force's performance.


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“It shows the work and the investment people have put into the force is really paying off. This is a big pat on the back for Suffolk police and the people of Suffolk,” he said.

“I cannot emphasise enough how important the contribution made by local taxpayers is to local policing.

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“The additional officers that we have recruited, coupled with the investment we have made in new technology, such as the scientific support centre at Halesworth, have helped us to achieve what we have to date.”

Suffolk recorded a total of 80 offences per 1,000 population during 2003-4, with only Surrey and Wiltshire seeing slightly lower levels.

Although the number of recorded offences in the county grew from 50,315 in 2002-3 to 53,443 in 2003-4, the figure represented the lowest in the region with Norfolk recording 69,846 offences, Cambridge 79,960 and Essex 144,512.

Suffolk's crime detection rate was 33%, putting it in joint top place in England with the City of London and Staffordshire.

Figures also show the levels of burglary in the county are lower than many parts of the country with 10 offences recorded per 1,000 population - putting it in joint top place in the region with Norfolk and Essex for this category.

Mr McWhirter said the force would not become complacent and would be working hard to maintain its present performance.

He added, however, the situation would become more difficult next financial year with an expected budget shortfall of about £6million.

He said: “Next year I think we are going to have a difficult financial situation. We have been working with the police authority to try and work out strategies where we can make cutbacks.

“If those resources are cut next year then maintaining that will be difficult. We will work hard to try and ensure the least impact as possible.

“I think there are a whole series of factors that go into making Suffolk perform well, including good organisation, to us having the resources to do the work. Part of it is down to the community as well.

“Rural forces tend to do better than larger forces. Officers in the force are actually part of the community, they live in it and work in it. They know all the community problems, which is a huge advantage.”

He added: “We are not becoming complacent at all. We are working hard to ensure we keep up the excellent performance reported in these figures.”

Suffolk recorded the lowest level of violent crime offences in the region along with Norfolk with 14 offences per 1,000 population, but violent crime has risen from 8,786 in 2002-03 to 10,480.

Data from the British Crime Survey revealed 55% of the county's residents rated the county's performance as excellent or good, which was significantly higher than the national average.

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