How do you feel in town?

SUFFOLK is still one of the safest counties in Britain, but a series of recent high profile, unprovoked attacks today leave some people scared to go out in Ipswich.

SUFFOLK is still one of the safest counties in Britain, but a series of recent high profile, unprovoked attacks today leave some people scared to go out in Ipswich. HAZEL BYFORD reports.

IPSWICH is the magnet for hundreds of people, who arrive from across Suffolk of an evening.

But how safe do you feel on the streets of our county town?

That is the question posed by The Evening Star today, after revealing the story of another innocent Ipswich man being savagely attacked.

When 20-year-old Thomas Folkes told this week how he was beaten up in the town centre, concerns arose that a string of unprovoked assaults happening. Just one day later it was reported that another 20-year-old had been attacked after leaving the same nightclub two weeks later. Both were left with broken jaws after forceful blows to the face.

A series of assaults have been reported by The Star this year, with several victims speaking out about the fear of going out. Many of the attacks are late at night or in the early hours of the morning, unprovoked, in the town centre and do not involve the offenders trying to steal anything.

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Suffolk Police say it is difficult to class the town as a 'safe' or 'unsafe' town, without investigating figures from other places, but the force does not think there is an outstanding problem with unprovoked attacks in the town centre at night.

Ipswich Nightsafe Partnership said there had been a recent spell of attacks, but that the town was not unsafe compared to other areas.

The partnership was set up in 1998, after a public consultation by Ipswich's Crime and Disorder Partnership (run by Ipswich Borough Council) revealed that violence and making the town's nightlife safe was what the public wanted.

Hannah Besley, community safety officer for the council said: “Unfortunately unprovoked attacks do happen, like we've seen recently. Often they are by people who the victim knows.

“It's our job to promote personal safety for people who are on nights out, and our three key messages are stick together, get home safe and don't overdo it.

“However, compared to other towns of a similar size and demographic, with a similar number of pubs and clubs, we are relatively safe. Ipswich does appear to have a higher number of attacks than other parts of Suffolk but that's because there's a bigger nightlife environment.”

More police officers patrol the town centre on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and officers shift patterns ensure there is a higher police presence between 10pm and 2am when public disorder incidents usually rise.

It also has a minimum staffing level for patrol officers, so holidays don't have an adverse affect on numbers, and patrol officers are supported by other units including specials, the dog unit and neighbourhood teams.

Sergeant Chris Downs said there are preventative safety measures people could take.

He said: “People who are going out and drinking at night should make sure they tell someone where they are going, and stay with their friends, even at the end of the night.

“They should book a licensed cab, or get a designated driver among their friends to take them home.”

Weblink:

www.onesuffolk.co.uk/Nightsafe/Ipswich

www.suffolk.police.uk

Also see www.eveningstar.co.uk to vote in today's web poll.

Do you think Ipswich is safe at night?

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

Do you want to talk about any of the assaults? Call the Newsdesk on 01473 324789 or the police on 01473 613500.

February:

N A man is left fighting for his life in hospital after a gang of six beat him with a stick in Grove Lane. The 21-year-old was attacked at 2.20am and sustained leg and arm injuries.

N An hour before the gang attack, three men attempted to rape a 47-year-old woman just 500 yards away, in Milner Street.

April:

N Jonathan Simpson was knocked off his bike when an attacker swung a large metal object at him as he cycled in Gippeswyk Avenue. The 23-year-old was left with a broken nose and cheekbone after the assault, which happened at 12.10am as he cycled home from a friend's house.

July:

N Lee Brunning was punched so hard in the face when he walked from a pub along Foxhall Road his jaw was smashed in half by a single punch. Mr Brunning was with his brother and a friend at around 10.45pm when they were set upon by two men.

N A teenager was left with a hole in his kidney, a black eye and a split lip after two men jumped him. The 19-year-old was walking in Princes Street at 2.15am.

N A man was subjected to a homophobic attack where he was abused for being gay. He was punched in the face and followed home and hit again. The 33-year-old was attacked in Upper Orwell Street at 3.50am.

September:

Thomas Folkes is left with a broken jaw after an attack in Carr Street in the early hours of the morning. He was attacked by two men while walking to a taxi rank after clubbing.

Matthew Northfield, was the victim of an unprovoked attack by a nightclubber in Princes Street, Ipswich at about 2.30am. See page 36 for the full story.

A 25-year-old man got out of his car in Shafto Road, Ipswich at 5.40pm on September 16 and was hit with a baseball bat three times to the head and shoulder and knee by one of two men who approached him.

The victim then ran off towards Tesco and a friend called an ambulance. He returned to his car and found his friend's mobile phone and the car stereo had been stolen.

The first offender is described black, aged about 25, with short black hair. The second was black and around 25. It is believed they may have left in a newish silver or grey VW Polo.

AN IPSWICH father today told how he found his 19-year-old son in a pool of blood, after an unprovoked late-night attack.

The father was sleeping at his home nearby when he got a phone call from his son's friend.

He said: “It's the phone call every parent dreads - being told your son has been attacked. He had been pushed to the floor and kicked in the head three or four times.

“When I got there five or ten minutes afterwards, his face was covered in blood and so were his clothes.

“There was a pool of blood on the pavement and I felt sick to the pit of my stomach.”

The college student was walking in Tuddenham Road at around 11.45pm one night in April, with a male and female friend when they were approached by four men in a car.

The men, wearing hoodies and baseball caps, were making gestures and acting aggressively and when the trio tried to pacify them, the group pushed the girl out of the way and attacked the two males.

The father, who wants to remain anonymous, said: “My son had never seen them anywhere before, they were complete strangers.

“It was completely unprovoked and vicious. My son had a mobile phone and cash on him and his friend was carrying a video camera but the attackers didn't try and steal anything - it was just pure violence.

“I think Ipswich is probably safer than most towns but it reflects society and society appears to have less controls now.

“No one was arrested, and the worst thing is thinking those men are driving around now knowing they've got away with it.”

Lee Brunning is today still suffering, after his jaw was shattered in a vicious attack nearly three months ago.

Since then his world has been turned upside down. He still suffers from nightmares and is afraid of leaving his home, all because of the sickening assault.

He even says he feels sorry for his attacker, for carrying out such an act of stupidity.

The 32-year-old said: “The attack is constantly on my mind and I've only just gone back to work. I've had teeth pulled out and I'm generally feeling terrible and not wanting to go out.

“Now I don't go out unless it's in a safe place, and I haven't been out on my own for ten weeks; I feel vulnerable.”

The Ipswich dad finds himself waking up at night, recalling the moment when he was viciously set upon by two people as he walked home along Foxhall Road in the town.

A man who had earlier shouted abuse at Mr Brunning's brother punched him in the face, knocked him to the ground, broke his jaw in two halves and forced his teeth through to his chin.

As a result he needed two titanium plates screwed in and wires to hold his teeth straight as well as 12 stitches in his mouth.

But Mr Brunning, who worked as a joiner before the assault, said: “It has brought me and my family closer together. It made me realise how important what you have in front of you is. The best things in life are at home.

“I've had time to do nothing but think for ten weeks.”

A broken jaw is the second most common facial injury, after a broken nose. The jawbone is the largest and main bone of the lower part of the face. Men are about three times more likely than women to sustain a broken jaw. Those aged 20-29 are the most common group affected.

Aside from the mental effects of an attack, many jawbone fractures are initially treated with antibiotics, painkillers and a tetanus shot.

Many fractures are stable, so the upper and lower teeth can be wired together by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for the bones to heal. Unstable fractures often require surgery, using plates across the fracture site to allow normal movement and to eat.

Source: www.emedicinehealth.com

Alice Last, 16, of Sproughton, said: “I don't feel safe at all. I think I might get mugged or stabbed. More police would help and pubs shouldn't be open all the time.”

David Walker, 16, from Sproughton, said: “I don't feel safe at night. There are a lot of dark alleyways and not enough street lights. I particularly don't like the subway tunnels. I never go through them. I don't think extended drinking hours have helped.”

Jonathan Elsom, 35, of Gatacre Road, near Bramford Road, Ipswich, said: “I feel safe but I don't go out as much as I used to. I don't put myself in a situation where I could feel unsafe. There is a lot of crime though and where I live you can always hear the police helicopter at night.”

Michelle Gooch, 26, of Robeck Road, Greenwich, Ipswich, said: “It depends on who I am out with whether I feel safe. If I am with my partner then I feel safe but I don't always feel safe if I'm out with the girls. I feel threatened by big groups of blokes especially when I'm walking home.

“They can be frightening when they start shouting. Drinking has got a lot to do with it.”

Martin Stewart, 33, of Robeck Road, Greenwich, Ipswich, said: “If there is a few of us out I feel safe, but I worry about my girlfriend when she goes out. There was a time when I would walk home at 3am but I wouldn't do that now. It might not be politically correct but I think that foreigners have got a lot to do with people felling unsafe because they go about in large groups.

“A lot of the problems are when people leave nightclubs. People act differently when they have been drinking. I have been in a fight when I was younger. When you sober up you realise you shouldn't have done it.”

Michael Price, 60, of Thornhill Road, Claydon, said: “I tend not to go out too much late at night now. I generally feel safe as long as I'm with someone else. I wouldn't come here alone. Ipswich is fine during the day but at night there are a lot more foreign people about and they tend to roam around in groups and you feel unsafe when you see groups of young men walking about.

“There is a lack of police walking around.”

Laura Moss, 23, of Shakespeare Road, in the Whitton area of Ipswich, said: “I' don't feel safe on my own. Groups of people can be intimidating and I'm careful. There are more problems when people drink. There should be more police about to stop incidents. I mostly make sure I go out with someone else.”

James Podd, 19, of Wellington Street, off Norwich Road, in Ipswich, said: “I feel safe. I am Ipswich born and bred so I know where is rough and where is safe.

“I don't go out much at the moment but I'm happy to go out alone. I can see why some people don't feel safe because groups of people can be intimidating.”

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