Revealed - Drug offences rise in Suffolk during lockdown

Police are urging motorists to be vigilant after a catalytic converter was stolen from a vehicle in

Police are urging motorists to be vigilant after a catalytic converter was stolen from a vehicle in Sudbury, following similar thefts in Bury St Edmunds last week. Picture:Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

The number of drug crimes recorded by Suffolk police in the county has risen by nearly 32% during the coronavirus lockdown, it has been revealed.

A Freedom of Information request revealed the number of drug offences recorded by Suffolk police between March 23 - the day the lockdown came into force - and May 25 this year was 365.

The figure for the same period in 2019 was just 277, an increase of nearly 100.

Police forces throughout England and Wales have released data suggesting the number of drug-related offences in both countries rose by 27% during lockdown - despite total recorded crime dropping by a quarter.

The data revealed thousands more crimes linked to banned substances were recorded by police in England and Wales between March 23 and May 25 than in the same nine-week period last year.

In England and Wales, there was a total of 25,665 drugs offences recorded during this period among the 26 police forces that responded to the request.

The latest total national figures for all crime reported by the National Police Chiefs’ Council showed a 25% drop in England and Wales in the four-week period to May 10.

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Patricia O’Brien, chairman of the Police and Crime Joint Committee at Suffolk County Council, described the increase in drug offences reported by Suffolk police as “disappointing”.

Peter Gardiner, vice-chairman of the panel, attributed the rise in cases to police locking down on drug crime during the lockdown.

He also said county lines drug gangs have continued to operate over the last few months and believed the reduced timetable for public transport played a factor.

Gangs expert Professor Simon Harding, University of West London, had previously suggested that drug dealers were dressing as joggers and using fake NHS ID badges to move around freely.

Mr Gardiner said: “It’s easier to pick up when there are less people about. It will stand out and is much more obvious.

“Because the drug dealers rely on this to make money, they will be out on the streets.

“It gives the police more evidence.

“I know the police have been picking up on drug-related crimes at the moment.

“This may just be one of the small positives of the lockdown if the police are picking up on these crimes.”

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