Violent crime rose over festive period

VIOLENT crime in west Suffolk was on the increase this Christmas - but police bosses said the rise was due to more officers on the streets.

Lisa Cleverdon

VIOLENT crime in west Suffolk was on the increase this Christmas - but police bosses said the rise was due to more officers on the streets.

Over the festive period, general violence - which includes being drunk in a public place or swearing - increased by 6.5%, with 263 offences taking place compared to 247 in the same period in 2006.

But Suffolk police said that by concentrating on hotspot areas in Newmarket, Haverhill, Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury, they had been on hand to nip more crimes in the bud.

Officers also said the proactive approach to policing has lead to a 9.4 per cent reduction in serious violent crime such as GBH - with 106 offences taking place compared to 117 the year before - because lesser crimes are being stopped from developing.

In total, 38 fixed penalty notices were issued between November 30, 2007, and January 1, 2008, with 113 people being charged with committing a violent offence.

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“Whilst violent crime in general rose, this is largely down to having more officers in key locations to proactively deal with anyone committing disorder,” said Superintendent Jon Brighton.

“If you take away those offences which can be dealt with by way of fixed penalty notice, levels of violence in a public place actually fell. I'm very pleased there was no increase in serious violence in a public place. We put extra officers on the street at key times and in areas where trouble can flare, and this has helped us to reduce these types of crime.”

As well as extra officers, the force deployed police horses to the streets of Newmarket in December. Pubs throughout west Suffolk also displayed information on responsible drinking and getting home safely after a night out, and the Western Suffolk Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership funded banners which went on display in Haverhill and Bury.

In Sudbury, five shops were visited by two underage “customers”, one of which sold alcohol to both youngsters and the member of staff responsible for the transaction was given a fixed penalty notice.

Police also visited numerous premises in Brandon, Beck Row, Mildenhall and Newmarket - including a pub, bowling alley and petrol station - none of which served the underage volunteers.

“I was particularly pleased with the public's response to the police horses in Newmarket,” added Supt Brighton. “When they patrolled along with local officers on December 1, no public order problems were reported in the town.”