Suffolk: Concern over crimes against US forces

USAF at RAF Mildenhall

USAF at RAF Mildenhall - Credit: Archant

More than 250 members of the US armed services have been targeted by criminals while stationed in Suffolk, new figures have revealed.

MPs last night said the incidents were “completely unacceptable” while police said they were working with the region’s bases to offer security advice to service personnel.

It has been suggested that gangs could be deliberately selecting US homes that have previously been less secure due to perceptions about low crime in England.

According to data released from Suffolk police under the Freedom of Information, between 2012 and June 2013 there have been 276 crimes committed against people who described themselves as Air Force, USAF or US military.

The two areas where crimes are most prevalent are unsurprisingly in west Suffolk, where major US bases are located. Seventy-six crimes have been recorded in Mildenhall and 58 in Brandon – close to RAF Lakenheath.

Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk said: “The USAF staff who live and work in and around Lakenheath and Mildenhall are a welcome part of the local community. As the host country these men and women are our guests and we have a responsibility to ensure their safety, particularly given that their presence contributes so much to the UK’s security. They serve alongside us and help defend our freedom as much as theirs.”

A spokesman for the 100 Air Refueling Wing, based at RAF Mildenhall, said: “The safety of our people is a chief concern for us, both on and off base.

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“Our Security Forces works directly with Ministry of Defence personnel to inform our service members and their families of potential crime trends in the area. They also provide our service members and families with tips to make their stay here a safer one, covering topics such as petty theft, travelling precautions, and how to secure ones home against break-ins. We are thankful to have such a close relationship with our host nation counterparts and will continue to work side-by-side with them to keep our entire community as safe as possible.”

There has previously been concern that a lack of security has been an issue at the homes of US personnel, with a number of incidents attributed to houses and cars being left unlocked.

Part of the problem is thought to be a perception of England and Suffolk as crime free as opposed to the USA.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said: “Officers from our Safer Neighbourhood Teams and Crime Reduction Officers work closely with the USAF bases in the county offering advice and guidance in relation to crime prevention to ensure people reduce their chances of becoming victims of crime.

“Any suspicious activity should be reported to police on 101 or if a crime is in process call 999 immediately.”