Violence clampdown is hailed a success

THE first weekend of a zero-tolerance campaign designed to stamp-out alcohol-fuelled violence in three Suffolk towns has been hailed a success.Only five people were arrested for public order offences in the west of the county as a result of the hard-hitting initiative, which was "significantly down" on figures for an average weekend.

THE first weekend of a zero-tolerance campaign designed to stamp-out alcohol-fuelled violence in three Suffolk towns has been hailed a success.

Only five people were arrested for public order offences in the west of the county as a result of the hard-hitting initiative, which was "significantly down" on figures for an average weekend.

Extra officers have been drafted into Newmarket, Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds for the duration of the month-long operation, to help curb a rising tide of attacks attributed to drink.

Early signs suggest the deterrent effect of an increased police presence and the constabulary's helicopter overhead appear to be working. Incidents of public disorder on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night were considerably reduced.

"Overall, I would say the first weekend of the campaign has been a success," said Insp Jon Brighton, sector commander for Stowmarket.

"We have brought in extra resources and extended shifts to ensure there are sufficient officers on the streets to allow people get home safely after the nighclubs have closed, and have distributed leaflets advising people to keep themselves safe.

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"Our presence has been well-received by youngsters, who have been very receptive to the police and are pleased to see more officers around.

"The overall feedback we are getting already is very positive, with both the people using the towns and those working in pubs and clubs feeling safer."

Mr Brighton said the weekend showed a considerable reduction in public order offences, with only 14 incidents reported over the course of three nights. Without the campaign, he added, the numbers for Stowmarket alone could sometimes be as high as four in just one night.

"We have also been quiet in terms of arrests, the number of which is significantly down," added Insp Brighton, who said two people were detained in Bury, a further two in Brandon and one in Haverhill. Significantly, no arrests were made either Stowmarket or Newmarket – two of the target zones for the push.

"As a duty inspector, I would normally have a lot of prisoners to deal with over a weekend, so a decrease in numbers is obviously good news. The force's helicopter has also been flying during the evenings, which has a deterrent effect. It is a good crime reduction tool, as it causes people to curtail their activities when it flies overhead."

The month-long campaign, which forms part of Operation Liberate, was launched last Monday

to blitz violent crime after a study found 81% of all attacks in all three towns after 7pm were linked to alcohol abuse. One main objective has been to persuade clubbers and pubgoers to drink less, cutting their risk of becoming either a perpetrator, or victim, of violence.

Officers have been working in partnership with venues in all three towns, asking landlords to refuse service to those already worse for wear because of alcohol while providing intelligence to police about anyone likely to cause a problem.

"I am very pleased that the police feel the campaign has been a success so far, and their high profile presence is extremely helpful," said Michael Jeffereys, Newmarket town councillor.

"It makes the vast majority of well-behaved people who go out for an evening feel much safer.

"The fact there have been no arrests in Newmarket this weekend is obviously a good sign, as it would appear the police are curtailing the actions of the few who can spoil things for the many."

The initiative has also been well received in both Bury and Stowmarket, where residents have also grown tired of late-night revellery.

"Fighting and disruption late in the evenings has been a problem in Stowmarket," said town councillor Barry Salmon.

"Anything the police can do to crackdown on this will make the town's environment that much better. The reduction in arrests is good news, and we hope the police can keep on top of the situation."

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