Police chief's pledge on violent crime

THE most senior police officer in Suffolk has pledged to tackle the concerning surge in violent crime.The number of violent offences recorded in the county is set to hit 10,438 by the end of next month, compared to 8,786 the previous year.

THE most senior police officer in Suffolk has pledged to tackle the concerning surge in violent crime.

The number of violent offences recorded in the county is set to hit 10,438 by the end of next month, compared to 8,786 the previous year.

Alastair McWhirter, the chief constable, commented on the figures after they were discussed at a special meeting of the Suffolk Police Authority yesterday , along with targets for the next year.

He said: "It is an ongoing process. We have to monitor this all through the year. It is not that we set targets and forget about them; we look at the intelligence all the time and look at delivering the results.


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"It is about monitoring the trends but we do not control all the variables. We will be working to make sure that this is the safest county in England and Wales by 2006."

And Mr McWhirter was in no doubt about the role of alcohol in the soaring violence statistics.

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He said: "We had a long, hot summer, which is not an excuse but it is a reality that people drink a lot more and are able to be out on the streets a lot more.

"There is also a jug culture in some public houses and clubs. Instead of buying individual measures of alcohol people are buying jugs of beer or spirits with only a small amount of the mixer on the top. People get much drunker and much more quickly."

He said that staff in the places often did not know what was going on and that drink was a "big influence on people's behaviour."

However he admitted that what is classified as violent crime is misleading and it is in fact a whole "hotch potch" of offences.

These can range from disorder to accosting to harassment, and do not necessarily involve physical contact – it could be an abusive telephone message.

Christine Laverock , chair of the police authority, said: "When you look at the numbers it includes so many areas that most people would not deem to be serious."

But she added: "We are very concerned. We are concerned for everybody and we have to look at how much the police can influence that.

"Our responsibility as a police authority is to make sure that there are the resources and police officers have the equipment they need to impact on the amount of violent crimes."

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