Police declare war on violent offenders
By Danielle NuttallCrime CorrespondentPOLICE have launched a full-scale war against drunken yobs who commit violent crime, insisting “enough is enough”.
By Danielle Nuttall
POLICE have launched a full-scale war against drunken yobs who commit violent crime, insisting “enough is enough”.
Suffolk Constabulary said they were making violent crime in a public place and alcohol-related offences their number one priority for the next six months following escalating violence in town centres.
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Last year the number of violent offences reported to police rose by 19.1% from 8,786 to 10,460 - the first time violent crime in Suffolk has topped 10,000 in any one year.
A total of 1,054 violent crime offences were reported to police in May this year alone, 204 more than the same month last year, leaving police with no alternative but to launch a major crackdown.
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Much of the violent crime has been blamed on a binge-drinking culture and involves assaults when drunken young people pour out on to the streets as pubs and nightclubs close.
Although the majority of the offenders are male, police have seen an increasing amount of women drinking to excess in recent years, who are both committing and being the victims of violent crime.
Violent crime last year peaked during the summer months and Suffolk police said early analysis showed there was likely to be an even greater increase this year unless tough action was taken.
Suffolk Assistant Chief Constable Colin Langham-Fitt said: “What we are saying is that enough is enough. People have the right to be able to go out and enjoy themselves, whatever the time, without the fear of violence.
“The public should not have to put up with the bad behaviour of a minority of irresponsible trouble-makers. It is up to us to work with the licensees to ensure these people do not spoil things for everyone else.”
He added: “Suffolk is a very safe place when compared with anywhere else in this country.
“However, drink-related violent crime has been increasing in recent years and although it still only makes up a small proportion of total crime, we know it has a disproportionate effect both on the victims and by creating fear in the wider community.”
Half of the violent offences reported to police last year were domestic violence, which has soared by more than double due to more people reporting the crime.
The rise was also due, in part, to less serious offences now being included in the violent crime statistics - which already includes more than 80 separate categories, including causing danger to road users and breaching restraining orders.
But violence in a public place accounts for almost half of all incidents of violence in Suffolk and police are focusing their resources on tackling this with extra patrols outside pubs and clubs and tougher action against licensees.
“There are a number of opportunities coming out of new licensing laws,” said Mr Langham-Fitt. “There are powers out there and we will use them.
“We will push them to the point that they squeak. We have been cautious in the past through not wanting to upset people.”
He warned: “We will be looking at those who are serving under-age drinkers and prosecuting them.
“We have not launched this because we are bad - it's not the type of knee-jerk reaction to a problem we have, it's us working to improve our success.”
The new crackdown will run from July to the end of December, so will include the busy summer months and the festive period.