Crime increased in the county last year

VIOLENT crime in Suffolk has risen sharply in the last 12 months and house burglaries have increased for the first time in three years, it has emerged.

VIOLENT crime in Suffolk has risen sharply in the last 12 months and house burglaries have increased for the first time in three years, it has emerged.

The number of violent crimes in the county rose by 16.2 per cent last year – from 1,078 offences to 1,134 – while the number of home burglaries rose by 11.3pc to 2,447 offences.

The figures are revealed in Chief Constable Paul Scott-Lee's annual police performance report, but he insisted yesterday Suffolk still had one of the lowest overall crime rates in England.

He said: "Suffolk Constabulary remains one of the best performing forces in the country, maintaining one of the lowest overall crime rates and one of the lowest burglary rates in England, complimented by a comparatively successful record in solving crime."

Overall, the level of recorded crime in Suffolk increased by 13.9pc – a rise of 6,175 offences to 50,492, which is the equivalent of 74.3 offences for every 1,000 people.

Chair of Suffolk Police Authority, Christine Laverock, said last night the figures had painted a mixed picture – but admitted the rise in crime was "disappointing".

Most Read

She added: "It is disappointing to see burglaries are on the increase as that is something in Suffolk we have always prided ourselves on, having one of the lowest rates."

Commenting on violent crime, she said: "The increase looks alarming but the rate of increase is slowing down compared to previous years."

And she stressed the force was starting to see the effect of the extra officers taken on, with public's satisfaction with the number of bobbies on the beat increasing.

"The other thing I thought was reassuring was that the police maintained a very good response rate to emergencies. I think there is a link with the extra officers," she added.

According to the figures, the level of domestic break-ins increased for the first time in three years. However the number of motor vehicle thefts fell by 4.1pc and the overall vehicle crime detection rate rose by 12.9pc.

Mr Scott-Lee said in his report the rise should be seen against a rise in the number of homes in the county from 272,400 in 1997/98 to just under 300,000 in 2001/02.

There was also a hike in so-called bogus caller crime – which soared from 104 incidents in 2000/01 to 294 last year - a rise of 183pc, and prompting the formation of a distraction burglary taskforce.

The force started recording crime in a way all police forces must start using from April 2002 and Mr Scott-Lee said there is strong evidence to suggest the increase in crime levels may at least in part, be due to this new standard.

The report also reveals the levels of sickness among police officers across the county continued to fall, contrary to the expectation that, nationally, sickness levels are increasing.

Mr Scott-Lee said the improvement in sickness levels was equivalent to having an extra eight officers available for normal duty.

Public satisfaction in the level of foot patrols has risen from 9.4pc to 10.1pc, and satisfaction with the level of mobile patrols has increased from 24.9pc to 28.5pc.

The report will be discussed by the Police Authority's best value committee at a meeting at force HQ Martlesham today, and debated by the full police authority next month.

Priorities for this year include preventing and detecting more house burglaries, violent crimes, criminal damage, disorder and reducing domestic violence.