A safe town centre is important to one and all.

I was recently out on patrol with the Police to review the current state of the town centre. My colleague, Councillor John Cook who covers Community Safety, and I walked round with Superintendent Andy Martin (Ipswich area commander) and Inspector Nicola Turner (Ipswich Central commander).

We started outside the Town Hall, where we met two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

The PCSOs provide a high visibility presence, tackle anti-social behaviour and deal with minor offences.

These officers are funded by a grant that Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) has received.

I do see them around, in fact last time I was in the town centre I saw two PCSOs with two Street Rangers and two uniformed constables dealing with an issue on the Cornhill.

We started in the area between McDonald’s on Tavern Street and St Lawrence church.

IBC has done work around St Lawrence church to clear vegetation and fit cameras. This has improved the area, which has had problems due to anti-social behaviour and drug usage.

The businesses around the churchyard have noticed a considerable reduction in anti-social behaviour and are satisfied with how things are progressing.

A lot of work has been done in this area by the police ‘Kestrel’ team, which is based at Princes Street.

The kestrel name reflects the way they work –hovering around the hotspots in the town centre and pouncing on those causing the trouble.

The area is a lot quieter in the evenings due to their efforts, reducing the impact of the various groups that used to hang around in that area. Apparently, the police team go into McDonald’s and chase out people who are not eating!

We moved to the Cattle Market bus station, where there has been some anti-social behaviour recently. There are concrete block seats at the far end, outside of CCTV range, which attract anti-social behaviour.

Sure enough, a group of street drinkers were there.

Inspector Turner was straight on the radio which resulted in two PCSOs and a police car arriving promptly. Councillor Cook and his IBC team have now managed to have those blocks removed.

We moved to Maple Park. On the way up Norwich Road, there was a discussion on the multi-cultural nature of the area.

The point was made that there were problems with the Polish community about ten years ago – mainly about drinking.

However, there were few police issues now. Perhaps new communities take a while to settle in?

IBC has invested in a new playpark, CCTV and other community improvements in the Maple Park area.

We spotted trees that had a lot of low-level growth, which needs clearing to help people feel safe, and this has been passed on to IBC Parks for pruning.

It was quiet when we were there, but I know the playpark is well used outside of school hours.

The improved police presence, with co-operation from IBC and funding from the Safer Streets programmes has made a difference.

May 2023 saw half the number of violent offences than October last year and a third lower than the previous May. Overall crime in Ipswich Central is down 28% year-on-year.

Superintendent Martin said that improving the perception and safety of Ipswich has always been a priority for him.

He is also keen to stress that it's not the police’s job to tell people Ipswich is safe, but to show them Ipswich is safe.

More police officers are working in the town centre, there is more CCTV and crime is being designed out.

I hope that my experience shows that Ipswich isn’t a no-go zone.