Police answer 'too soft' accusations

SUFFOLK police have today blamed a statistical blunder after the force was accused of being too lenient on offenders caught with knives.Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed the force was the fifth most likely constabulary in the country to let those caught carrying knives escape with a caution.

SUFFOLK police have today blamed a statistical blunder after the force was accused of being too lenient on offenders caught with knives.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed the force was the fifth most likely constabulary in the country to let those caught carrying knives escape with a caution.

The league table showed that only London, Sussex, the Thames Valley and West Midlands police issued more cautions for possession of an offensive weapon or bladed item.

And the figures stated 381 people were cautioned for possession of an offensive weapon or bladed article in the county in the year ending March 2007.


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However, a spokesman for Suffolk police said today that the figures, published in a Sunday newspaper, had been misinterpreted.

A spokesman for Suffolk Police said: “Suffolk is a safe county - and crime in the county continues to fall, following last year's decrease of more than three per cent.

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“In the financial year 2006/07, Suffolk Constabulary recorded 123 cautions for possession of weapon offences, such as having an article with a blade or point in a public place.

“Police officers have a number of options for dealing with offences, including the recording of a caution, depending on the nature and circumstances of the crime and following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service.”

The mistake arose because Suffolk police supplied the journalist who requested the information with the total number of recorded incidents, as well as the number of cautions issued, the spokesman said.

If the real figure of 123 cautions had been used Suffolk would have taken 21st position - one place behind Norfolk where police said 131 cautions had been handed out.

According to statistics provided by forces across the country, a total of 8,789 cautions were issued relating to possession of weapons in public, during the year ending April 2007. In 1999, the figure was 5,597.

It was also revealed that six people in Suffolk received cautions for possession of weapons while on school premises.

Four forces - Hampshire, Humberside, Surrey and Wiltshire, did not provide statistics.

N What do you think? Is a caution too lenient? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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