Vandalism offences show dramatic rise

THE rising tide of vandalism eroding people's quality of life in many parts of Suffolk can be revealed today.In the last nine years, the amount of criminal damage has risen in Suffolk at nearly twice the national rate - with more than 13,000 cases reported to police last year alone.

THE rising tide of vandalism eroding people's quality of life in many parts of Suffolk can be revealed today.

In the last nine years, the amount of criminal damage has risen in Suffolk at nearly twice the national rate - with more than 13,000 cases reported to police last year alone.

Last night, community leaders said while such vandalism may seem like low-level crime to many, it was blighting people's daily lives - denting the pride they have in their home towns and villages.

According to the Government, there were 13,067 cases of criminal damage in Suffolk during 2005-6 - compared to 7,835 in 1997. The 67% increase was almost double the national rise of 35% in the same period.


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But Suffolk police claimed the rise was partly due to changes in the way crime statistics were collated.

Joanne Rogers, community safety officer for Mid Suffolk District Council, said vandalism had a “wearing effect” on residents.

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She said it was often a symptom of adults drinking too much alcohol, youngsters being bored or people simply not taking responsibility for their actions.

“It can seem a minor thing and not that big a deal but it might cost hundreds of pounds to, say, fix a car and it's all the hassle that goes with it and irritation.

“If people have their pots knocked over at the front of their house or their bins moved then they might be discouraged from investing in their home, which has a knock-on effect on the community. It creates a damage window situation, so people are not bothered about the state of what was once a nice road.”

She added: “It wears people down. Often they do not see it as a crime and they do not want to bother police about it but it upsets them.”

Vandalism to public property can also lead to higher council taxes as local authorities cover the expense, she said.

The council is tackling the issue by working with publicans and other organisations, as well as encouraging young people to get involved in activities in the district.

Tony Spall, chairman of the Ipswich South East Network Group of Neighbourhood Watch, said it was helping raise awareness among the community and encouraging people to adopt a “see it, report it” approach, no matter how minor the offence.

David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, obtained the vandalism figures through a House of Commons question posed to Vernon Coaker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office.

He described them as “troubling reading”, adding: “Criminal damage is one of those despicable crimes that can blight a local community and destroy the quality of life local people enjoy.”

But a Suffolk police spokesman said changes to crime recording practices would have resulted in a significant increase in the figures since 1997.

He added: “Criminal damage can cause a great deal of distress and inconvenience to victims.

“Where police become aware of ongoing problems officers will give extra attention to the area - and will work with partners, such as local councils and Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships, through the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, to tackle the issue.

“This response has already seen significant results in some areas. For example, Woodbridge experienced a 20% decrease in criminal damage with 162 fewer crimes being committed in 2005-6.”

1997 2005/6 Rise

Suffolk 7,835 13,067 67%

Bedfordshire 8,025 10,817 35%

Cambridgeshire 9,250 14,680 59%

Essex 18,845 30,564 62%

Hertfordshire 9,831 20,986 113%

Norfolk 9,782 17,577 80%

England 822,029 1,107,753 35%

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