Town crime purge hits villages

By Danielle NuttallCrime CorrespondentPROLIFIC criminals are being driven out of town by tough policing, only to start committing crimes in quieter rural areas, it has been revealed.

By Danielle Nuttall

Crime Correspondent

PROLIFIC criminals are being driven out of town by tough policing, only to start committing crimes in quieter rural areas, it has been revealed.

Many communities living in the Suffolk Coastal district - particularly in Felixstowe and Woodbridge - have seen a worrying increase in crimes committed by Ipswich-based offenders due to a crackdown in the county town.


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As a result of the clampdown in Ipswich, police in Woodbridge and Felixstowe have been forced to mount their own operation to curb the problem by introducing nightly patrols along the main routes out of Ipswich.

New figures released by Suffolk police showed 823 burglaries were committed in the eastern area, which includes the Suffolk Coastal district, in the past year - 136 more than the target set by the force.

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Detective Chief Inspector Phil Aves, crime manager for the eastern area, said: "Ipswich has done particularly well in some areas to bring crime down. But it does cause some displacement. It's the old balloon effect - you stand on it in one place and it pops up somewhere else.

"We are seeing an upturn in crime, which we do believe is down to groups of individuals coming out of the Ipswich area.

"They are coming out, often at night or later in the evening, and committing vehicle crime and burglaries. A lot of those are what we call burglaries of buildings, factories, shops and schools as well as house burglaries to a small degree. It's also vehicle crime on people's driveways.

"To combat that, both Felixstowe and Woodbridge and the area support team have been targeting since before Christmas that corridor and routes out of Ipswich used by offenders."

Mr Aves said police in Woodbridge and Felixstowe were now working closely with officers in Ipswich to identify the criminals who were committing crime in their towns.

His comments came after former Woodbridge mayor, Mac Miles, said traders in the town could resort to hiring private security firms to patrol their premises due to increases in burglaries and criminal damage.

"We are increasing patrols in the area, both overtly and covertly. We will put marked cars out and patrol those roads into Ipswich. Sometimes we will put unmarked cars and watch what's going through," said Mr Aves.

"We are running regular late-night operations along those routes. The number of crimes is starting to reduce and there have been significant arrests in conjunction with Ipswich officers. We're trying to make it just as unpleasant for criminals in the eastern areas as it is in Ipswich."

Annual crime figures published by Suffolk Police Authority showed the number of house burglaries across Suffolk rose from 2,284 in 2002/03 to 2,385 in 2003/04, an increase of 4.4%.

However, the force's detection rate fell from 21.1% to 18.6% during the same period, although comparative figures showed Suffolk still had the lowest level of house burglaries in England.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: "Burglary has risen in the county in the last year, but it must be pointed out Suffolk still has one of the lowest burglary rates in the county.

"During the year ahead officers in all sectors across the county will be aiming to reduce the number of burglaries through the intelligence-led targeting of persistent offenders."

The figures also revealed violent crime in Suffolk increased by 19.1% in 2003/04, while the detection rate for all violent crime fell from 75.7% in 2002/03 to 65% in 2003/04.

However, there was an 8% drop in motor vehicle thefts from 6,282 in 2002/03 to 5,782 in 2003/04, which is the lowest the county has seen in three years.

Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Worobec said: "Suffolk Constabulary has conducted an in-depth analysis of violence in public places to help it target resources appropriately.

"This analysis shows that most of those offences involve young men. The analysis has indicated that double the number of offences occurred at weekends, usually late at night with a significant proportion recorded as alcohol-related."

He added: "Any rise in violent crime is of course disappointing. It's particularly disappointing that so much of it is down to young people who seem unable to go out and enjoy themselves without resorting to violence.

"In the year ahead we will continue to target violent crime as a priority with our partners through on-going operations."

The figures are due to be discussed by the police authority at a meeting on Friday.

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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