Suffolk: Seven of Suffolk’s top ten offenders free on streets - police want answers

A woman, 74, who had gone missing, has been found "safe and well" following a police appeal.

A woman, 74, who had gone missing, has been found "safe and well" following a police appeal. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

SEVEN of the county’s top 10 offenders – who have committed more than 620 crimes between them in two years – are free to walk the streets.

Tim Passmore, police and crime commissioner for Suffolk, branded the repeat offenders “menaces to society” after an investigation found the ten most prolific offenders committed 623 crimes in 2011 and 2012.

The offences include theft, burglary, wounding with intent, possession of drugs and assaulting police officers.

The youngest, a 17-year-old from Ipswich, committed 54 offences, while the most prolific criminal in Suffolk, a 33-year-old from Lowestoft, committed 84 – an average of a crime every eight days.

Both are currently not in prison.

Mr Passmore said: “I would like to know why these people are being released after committing so many crimes previously because they are clearly a menace to society and are being allowed to commit more crimes.

“I want to know the reasons why whoever decided to release these repeat criminals back into society did so, because it doesn’t convince me. It is not acceptable.

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“These criminals cannot keep getting four, five, six chances. I don’t like a softy-softy approach and we need tougher sentencing guidelines which need to be properly applied.

“The primary issue here is that the public need to feel protected and on this evidence they are not.

“I will chase up the judiciary system and the criminal justice board about this. People’s lives are being defiled.”

The findings, released under Freedom of Information laws, showed eight of the top ten offenders were from Ipswich, with the other two from Lowestoft. Their average age was 27.

Last month, the East Anglian Daily Times revealed 3,004 violent offenders were cautioned by Suffolk police between 2010 and 2012, as were 1,085 thieves, 896 drug offenders, 71 burglars and five robbers.

Guidelines say police can issue cautions to offenders who admit their crimes where circumstances such as the age, welfare or mental state of the victim or criminal means it is not in the public interest to prosecute.

Ben Gummer, MP for Ipswich, said he was not surprised at the figures.

“The problem we have is that a very small number of families have completely lost any sense of discipline or parental responsibilities. They lack any regard for the law and have effectively gone feral, and that is very sad,” he said.

“These are people who lead desolate lives from a young age and have drug and family problems. Troubled children become troubled teenagers, troubled young men and so on.

“It is a depressing. You can’t lock them up for 20 years for minor offences.

“The only way to stop them, and other countries have been successful of this, is to get a grip of their problems and rehabilitate them. But the system is appalling and has been historically. For the last 30 years we have done nothing compared to other countries.

“But two thirds of the offenders who come out are committing crimes again. It is counter-productive. We clearly have sentences that are ineffective

“If you ask police about the proportion of the crimes and take out the top 20 offenders, we would almost have a crime-free town.”

Detective chief inspector Bernie Morgan, of the County Policing Command, said: “Our objective is to have a robust approach to identifying individuals who are causing the most harm, looking at the most appropriate intervention and addressing the cause, in order to reduce re-offending.”

Kate Biles, divisional manager for Victim Support Suffolk, said: “Victims don’t always want harsh punishments, but they do want the response to fit the crime and make sure the offender doesn’t do it again.

“Although it’s up to the police to decide how offenders should be dealt with initially, victims need to have these decisions clearly explained to them. Ultimately victims want to see justice done.”

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