Ipswich: Study ranks Ipswich as the country’s most violent town – but police and council bosses label findings as rubbish

Christchurch Mansion in Christchurch Park

Christchurch Mansion in Christchurch Park - Credit: Archant

COUNCIL chiefs last night leapt to the defence of Ipswich after a think-tank claimed it was the most violent town in the country.

The Ipswich Cornhill.

The Ipswich Cornhill.

The study, carried out by the Institute for Economics and Peace, ranked Ipswich as the 23rd most violent local authority out of 343 in England and Wales in 2012 – ahead of Liverpool and Nottingham.

Only Manchester, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and a host of inner-London boroughs were deemed more violent than Ipswich in the report, dubbed the UK Peace Index.

The findings come just one day after Suffolk Police published a report showing crime figures had fallen for the seventh consecutive year in the county.

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, criticised the report, branding it “at odds with reality”.

“Ipswich is not worse than Liverpool. That’s rubbish,” he said.

“The report is one of those things where you can prove anything with statistics.

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“Historically we have had some problems and some exemptions, but if you look at Ipswich now it would tell a very different story.

“Police have stepped up patrols, CCTV is in operation and town pastors are out at night. This report does not tell the true story.”

The figures – based on homicide, violent, weapon and public disorder crimes per 100,000 people over a 10-year period, as well as police numbers – were taken from recorded police crime tables sourced from the Home Office, the think-tank said.

Ipswich scored 3.588 out of five in the think-tank’s chart, with five being the most violent, making it the worst area in the East of England.

Broadland, a borough which borders Norwich, was the least violent in the country, with a score of 1.164. South-east London borough Lewisham was ranked the most violent, scoring 4.529.

Last September the Star reported a 13% decrease in crime was recorded between April 1 and August 31 by police in 2012.

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore rubbished the report’s findings.

“Surveys such as these are not always helpful as they focus on a very select group of statistics and can give a distorted view,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone would really consider Ipswich to be one of the least peaceful places in the country.

“The Ipswich Star carried a very positive story about the fact that crime had dropped for the seventh straight year, which better reflects a recent independent consultation which highlighted that 89% of people surveyed in Suffolk felt safe in the county.”

Mid-Suffolk, the local authority for towns such as Stowmarket and Needham Market, was ranked the country’s 25th-most non-violent area, scoring 1.424.

Kate Biles, Victim Support Divisional Manager for Suffolk, said: “Last year we supported 930 victims of crime in Suffolk so we know that being a victim can be traumatic and leave both physical and emotional scars.

“Even one case of crime is too many but if you are unfortunate to become a victim you can get help by calling Victim Suportline on 0845 30 30 900 or visiting our website at www.victimsupport.org.uk.”

Steve Killelea, founder and CEO of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), said they discovered “big differences” in poverty rates in Suffolk which may be linked to the varying levels of crime in the county.

“The findings of the UK Peace Index show that poverty and economic opportunity are significantly associated with peace as supported by other international studies, including the US Peace Index,” he said.

“We saw they were strongly linked with poverty rates. In Babergh, for example, the child poverty rate is just 6%. In central Ipswich, 38% of children are living below the poverty line.

“This suggests greater emphasis needs to be placed on programmes that tackle poverty and related issues such as access to education and economic opportunity.”