Police hail fall in violent crime

VIOLENT crime in Suffolk has fallen for the first time in eight years thanks to a huge police drive to target alcohol-related aggression, it has been revealed.

By Danielle Nuttall

VIOLENT crime in Suffolk has fallen for the first time in eight years thanks to a huge police drive to target alcohol-related aggression, it has been revealed.

New figures show the number of violent offences fell by 1.3% during the past six months, from 5,880 in the same period in 2004 to 5,802 offences at the end of September this year.

More serious violent crime offences - committed in a public place - also fell by almost 4% compared to last year, from 2,197 to 2,119, while total recorded crime fell by 40 offences.

But there was some disappointment for Suffolk Constabulary with data showing domestic burglary has increased by almost 16%.

The figures, published by the Suffolk Police Authority, show 153 more of these offences were recorded between April and September compared to last year.

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This has been blamed on a high number of distraction burglaries and as a result of prolific offenders being released back into the community following jail sentences.

Suffolk Constabulary has pledged to re-introduce the offence as a top priority.

The force spearheaded a similar countywide crackdown on booze-fuelled violence by stepping up patrols outside pubs and nightclubs and working in partnership with licensees.

Peter Worobec, Suffolk police's temporary Assistant Chief Constable, said the latest figures showed the collaborative work, such as Nightsafe, had begun to bear fruit.

“Our new Suffolk First For You initiative aims to provide local people with the best policing service in the country - and these figures suggest that we are moving towards our goal,” he said.

“I am particularly pleased that we have seen a decrease in violent crime, the first for more than eight years.

“As people will be aware, we have made tackling violence crime - particularly alcohol-related violence in our town centres - a top priority.

“I hope that this success helps reduce concern about violent crime, which according to the British Crime Survey stands at 15.4% in Suffolk - above our 14% target.

“Now we must keep up the good work as we approach the busy Christmas period. The message is clear; we want people to enjoy a safe night out in our town centres and will not tolerate violent and threatening behaviour.”

Despite the recent rise, Suffolk still has one of the lowest burglary rates in the country and is still the best performing force across a range of indicators when compared to forces of a similar size.

The force is preparing to launch its crackdown on burglary and is confident it will reverse the current trend.

Acting ACC Worobec said: “The rise is partly due to an increase in distraction burglaries. This is a particularly unpleasant type of crime in which offenders, often acting in pairs, trick their way into the home of a victim.

“While one of the offenders distracts the victim in some way, the other searches the house for cash and valuables.

“Our aim is to work with other organisations, including the local media, to highlight the steps that can be taken to avoid becoming a victim of this type of crime and to use intelligence-led policing to target those responsible for both distraction and other types of burglary.”

The report also shows that Suffolk has the lowest level of public worry about vehicle crime in the country and one of the lowest perceived levels of anti-social behaviour.

It also shows more than 92% of 999 calls are answered within 10 seconds - an improvement of almost 12% compared to the same period last year.

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