Suffolk: Bid to tackle festive drink crime

A STAGGERING snapshot of the problems caused by alcohol has revealed Suffolk police made nearly 1,000 drink-related arrests during December, 2008 and 2009.

The 999 suspects were responsible for almost 1,200 offences, according to constabulary figures.

In addition serious violent crime went up by 15% (214 offences) last December compared to the same period in 2008 (186 offences).

A total of 241 of the crimes leading up to the last two Christmas’ and New Year’s Eves were caused by alcohol.

Officers said December sees a sharp spike in violent offences, which then reduce considerably in January.

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As part of their Staysafe campaign police have appealed for people to drink sensibly and stay safe during this year’s party season. Suffolk police’s Ch Supt Mark Cordell said: “Tackling alcohol-related crime is a priority for the force all year round.

“However, as the festive season approaches we are acutely aware that the number of people out celebrating and drinking alcohol drastically increases, which can lead to a sharp increase in this type of crime.

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“Violent crime is a serious offence and can result in serious trauma for the victim and a custodial sentence for the offender. This is often triggered by excessive drinking.

“Increased alcohol can reduce feelings of inhibitions, often resulting in people putting themselves at risk and making themselves vulnerable.

“We would like party-goers who are enjoying the Christmas celebrations to have fun and to enjoy the nightlife our county has to offer, but to be sensible, to know their limits, to not drink excessively, to ensure that friends look out for one another and to get home safely.”

Ch Supt Cordell warned officers will be increasing high-visibility patrols in key town centre locations over the festive period and will make early arrests in a bid to stop violence or anti-social behaviour escalating.

Specific dates are being targeted by police, which traditionally have been very busy for Christmas socialising.

In Ipswich officers will be working with other organisations such as the borough council, Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team and the Ipswich Taxi Marshall Scheme to ensure revellers stay as safe as possible.

Multi-agency events will take place in the town on December 17 and 23 from 5.30pm onwards. The evenings will include a land train operating in the pedestrian part of the town centre, which will include safer drinking messages.

Town pastors who volunteer their time to offer support to vulnerable people in Suffolk town centres, such as Ipswich, Newmarket and Stowmarket, will also be on hand during the party season.

There has also been conflict management training for door staff in Ipswich and Lowestoft.

Editorial comment – Page 18

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