Crackdown on crime targets more estates

PUBLISHED: 03:27 09 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:01 03 March 2010

AS a new chain of command takes over policing the south of Suffolk, crime reporter LISA BAXTER speaks to Ipswich's chief cop and his right-hand man about problems plaguing the town and their vision for future.

AS a new chain of command takes over policing the south of Suffolk, crime reporter LISA BAXTER speaks to Ipswich's chief cop and his right-hand man about problems plaguing the town and their vision for future.

A NEW police command team in Ipswich has pledged targeted operations for estates on the west of the town, similar to those cracking down on anti-social nuisance behaviour in the east.

Chief Superintendent Geoff Munns, new area commander for Suffolk Constabulary's southern sector, said "there will be similar targeted operations for Whitton and across the area", akin to those already focusing on youth problems and car crime on the other side of the town.

"It's a matter of getting the right officers in the right place at the right time," he said.

Extra officers, financed by a hike in council taxes this year, were already being used to "make an impact in areas causing us concern like the town centre," Ch Supt Munns added.

And additional bobbies headed to the southern area next year would increase the force's capacity for "more targeted activity in other areas of Ipswich and opportunities to increase staffing at both Hadleigh and Sudbury sectors," he said.

"There are other aspects of general policing which continue to trouble us including nuisance offending and anti-social behaviour" which impact on people's quality of life, Ch Supt Munns said.

"We are working very hard on these types of issues where the levels of crime are higher than they should be. We're using new and innovative means of tackling some of these issues including the Youth Nuisance Register (where the parents of troublesome youngsters are written to and visited by an officer if such behaviour persists), Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and Anti Social Behaviour Orders.

"On top of that, we have targeted police activity which, in the last month has apprehended a number of persistent offenders and has seen considerable reductions in crime such as vehicle crime."

Launching his vision for policing the town with new southern area operations manager Superintendent Carl Puiy, Ch Supt Munns said he was looking forward to working with other agencies to improve community safety and reduce the fear of crime.

"The coming months will see a continued thrust to address localised anti-social behaviour through problem solving approaches, high visibility policing, and, where appropriate, intelligence led operations to apprehend persistent offenders," he said.

Recent police operations in east Ipswich had led to significant drops in specific areas of crime there, head of crime management Detective Chief Inspector Dave Corderoy confirmed. Vehicle crime halved from October to November, criminal damage was down as were reports of burglaries from buildings in the area.

"Action against young people has directly effected quite a few categories of crime and I'm sure our action there did cause the fall," he said.

While overall crime in east Ipswich was up 29 per cent in the period April to November compared with the same period last year, concerted operations in the area had triggered recent falls – such as an almost 19pc drop from October to November.

"What we've got to do now is sustain it," DCI Corderoy said.

The pledge to mirror such operations elsewhere in the town will come as welcome news to residents of areas such as Whitton in the west of Ipswich where concerns have been raised about youth nuisance behaviour and safety.

"This is the worst estate around here," said a 25-year-old dad from Browning Road. "We've been trying to move out for three years but no-one wants to move in. You get groups of boys waiting for you at 2am in the morning when you're walking to work. I have to change my route every morning.

"I nearly got mugged by two young boys on a Saturday night. They were standing about outside the shops and followed me, waiting."

The dad-of-two said groups of youths gathered in an intimidating manner around shops and were abusive to passers-by.

Superintendent Puiy, who has moved to the Ipswich area from Suffolk Police's operations department where he led the introduction of the helicopter, said: "As a new command team, our aim is to make a difference and drive up levels of performance and service delivery. We believe that we bring new ideas and, together with the hard working and dedicated staff already present in the area, we can make a difference."

Supt Puiy and Ch Supt Munns identified the new, dozen-strong Ipswich Town Centre Unit as an example of how extra resources were improving policing in the town. "It's impact – particularly as regards high visibility policing and public reassurance – has already been impressive," Ch Supt Munns said of the dedicated town centre beat bobbies who focus on the retail sector and nighttime entertainment scene. The unit is expected to double in size next year.

DCI Corderoy said that while violent crime in the town centre rose by just over 17pc in the period April to November compared with the same period last year, "at the very serious end of the spectrum [for example, murder and attempted murder], there was significantly less". Serious violent assaults in and around nightclubs, such as that which led to the death of nightclubber Phil Hoi Phat Lui last year, had also tailed off, he confirmed.

The fall in serious violent crime was due to Nightsafe Ipswich, DCI Corderoy said – an ongoing operation linking the police, council and nightspots, aimed at improving management of the town's growing leisure sector and reducing alcohol-related violence.

Ch Supt Munns, who has served with Suffolk Constabulary for 28 years, has been a leading figure in the development of Nightsafe Ipswich. Pubs, clubs and the force now have a much "healthier relationship" than existed a year ago, working closely together to initiate things such as the late-night bus service.

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