Town centre traders plagued by crime and antisocial behaviour
PUBLISHED: 10:01 22 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:01 22 August 2019
A group of town centre traders say they are fighting for their businesses in the face of crime and antisocial behaviour.
They say customers are being put off by open drug use and groups of people behaving intimidatingly - and even violently - in the area of Arras Square in Ipswich.
In recent weeks, say the traders, a teenage girl had a glass bottle smashed over her head and a woman with learning difficulties was terrorised by youngsters she dared criticise for misbehaving.
Steve McGoochan, chairman of the Conservative Club in St Stephen's Church Lane, is among traders calling for action.
He said borough council plans to redevelop the area outside the Buttermarket needed to be moved forward - or at least preceded by steps to deter groups gathering.
"We feel neglected," he said.
"A few years ago, we were told there would be zero-tolerance on street drinkers. It didn't last.
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"More lighting would make a huge difference, because there would be fewer places to hide."
Another trader said staff were having to deal with the fall-out
"If we're spending less time serving the public, we're taking less money and it's affecting our business," added the trader, who said they had given up trying to report incidents on the 101 non-emergency police phone line.
"We're just fire-fighting all the time. We'd like the police to make sure crimes aren't committed - not just respond when they are."
Police have promised to tackle antisocial behaviour hotspots across Ipswich this summer.
Dedicated patrols resulted in 13 arrests, four closure notices on properties, 34 stop-and-searches, 12 Community Protection Notice warning letters and seven youth offending team referrals during a similar purge last summer.
Pc Gary Austin said reports of antisocial behaviour, street drinking and other issues in the area were a priority for the safer neighbourhood team, with officers carrying out regular patrols and engagement to address issues directly, as well as giving detailed crime prevention advice, leading to a fall in reports of some issues.
He said all reports were reviewed to ensure deployment of resources based on threat, harm and risk, prioritising crime in progress or danger to people.
He said officers would take robust action against those involved in crime, and encouraged people to be vigilant and report any signs of suspicious behaviour to the safer neighbourhood team.