Concern over rise in town centre crime

Crime in Ipswich town centre went up nine per cent in December but shopper numbers were more buoyant than elsewhere, it was revealed today.

IPSWICH: Crime in Ipswich town centre went up nine per cent in December but shopper numbers were more buoyant than elsewhere, it was revealed today.

Ipswich Central, the Business Improvement District (BID) company which is trying to improve the area, has released figures for Christmas 2009 showing a worrying increase in crime, but signs that retail trade is improving.

In one specific example, shoplifting soared by 18pc compared to December 2008, it said, but pointed out that the increase was partly due to better detection rates, helped by police, shop detectives and BID street rangers working together.

An extra street ranger has been drafted in to bolster the team's town centre presence and police have now employed a retail business commerce office in a bid to combat town centre problems.

However, Ipswich Central is anticipating that crime will remain a problem for a while.

“As the country fights its way out of recession, it is likely that the crime statistics will lag behind for a time before they start to reduce,” a spokeswoman said.

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Ipswich Central also found that car parks struggled to cope with demand at peak shopping times, and said there had been a 12pc increase in car numbers at Suffolk County Council's three edge-of-town Park and Ride sites.

The closure of the 1,000-space Crown car park “inevitably” had an impact, it said, and while certain users naturally migrated to the Park and Ride scheme, or other forms of transport, others turned to alternative car park operators in the town, which has 4,000 spaces.

In November, shopper numbers were 6.8pc down compared to a national average of 15.4pc down, while in December, the town saw a small increase in shoppers of 0.3pc compared to a more gloomy 9.5pc fall across UK.

Police spokeswoman Anne-Marie Breach said: “We work very closely with town centre retailers. Theft from shops is one of the key offences. An increase can mean more shoplifters have been arrested, and means more shoplifters are being caught.”

Is crime blighting your community? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk