Town sees rise in violent crime

A HISTORIC town's burgeoning night-time economy and café society have been blamed on a dramatic increase in violent offences, police chiefs have revealed.

A HISTORIC town's burgeoning night-time economy and café society have been blamed on a dramatic increase in violent offences, police chiefs have revealed.

Hot spot areas throughout west Suffolk will now be targeted by police in a bid to curb the worrying rise - with new figures released today revealing many offences took place in the late afternoon and early evening, particular in Bury St Edmunds.

Chief Superintendent Mick Green, area commander for west Suffolk, described the battle against violent crime as their "Achilles heel" and attributed much of the increase to continental-style drinking patterns in towns such as Bury.

He also dismissed concerns about police job losses in the west of the county but admitted the situation was "under constant review" and refused to rule out cuts in the future.

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New police figures revealed that there were 1,695 violent crime offences in west Suffolk during 2003/04 - 85 more than the previous 12 months.

Chief Supt Green said: "Any regeneration in a town centre, like with Bury's café society, by its nature will bring about problems of disorder.

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"With that kind of culture, it means more people are drinking which leads to violence and domestic violence fuelled by alcohol - it is inevitable.

"This is an area of crime where we do concentrate a lot of resources on. A significant number of violent crimes are committed in the late afternoon or early evening.

"Starting this weekend, we will be getting extra resources in hot spot areas. If we identify a particular town or a particular nightclub with a problem, we will putting in extra officers."

Launching their annual plan for policing, Chief Supt Green said budgetary restrictions had to be made within the west of the county but said there were no fears over job losses.

"If there is any fat, we have to strip it away," he said. "It is just a case of efficiency saving and it is something we look at every year.

"This sometimes means we will have to re-prioritise some things - for instance, where ten people are doing a job, it might be better to have eight.

"Losing police officers is not an issue, if there were any job losses it would be in our support staff. "There are no guarantees and the whole situation is under constant review. But I would reiterate that with careful management of our budget, there will be no job losses."

Police figures also revealed increases in levels of criminal damage - which was described as the "greatest concern" for residents in towns and villages - and vehicle crime.

But there was better news with a reduction in the number of burglary dwellings by 25% in the last four years.

Detective Chief Inspector Jon Brighton, based in Bury St Edmunds said: "There has been a dramatic reduction but it is not something we will get complacent about.

"We still suffer from being not too good at detecting burglars coming into the area, like distraction burglaries."

Meanwhile, police have given an insight into new revolutionary technology used in a troubled corner of a Suffolk town.

A wireless CCTV camera, worth almost £10,000, has been installed in Stamford Court, Bury, after a dispersal order was executed in the area last year.

Able to zoom into a location 100m away, the camera - one of four purchased by police in west Suffolk -can focus more tightly on individuals and provide much quicker information to officers.

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