Police officers going from Suffolk port

FELIXSTOWE is to lose 20 per cent of its frontline police officers, it was revealed today.The force is "robbing Peter to pay Paul" by cutting numbers at the resort in order to boost the amount of officers dealing with growing crime problems in Lowestoft at the other end of the county.

FELIXSTOWE is to lose 20 per cent of its frontline police officers, it was revealed today.

The force is "robbing Peter to pay Paul" by cutting numbers at the resort in order to boost the amount of officers dealing with growing crime problems in Lowestoft at the other end of the county.

Woodbridge and Leiston will also have their numbers reduced to help staff a specialist unit.

Ironically, the move comes at time when the number of police officers in Suffolk - and nationally - is at an all-time high.

It also comes just 18 months after Felixstowe police commander Andy Bushell was celebrating a 25pc increase in his officers.

But today Insp Bushell pledged that residents would still receive an excellent police service - and that the community police team would not be affected.

Most Read

"The officers here will still provide an excellent service, there will still be officers on patrol all the time and the core of our work here, the community police team headed by Sgt Mick Richardson, will continue untouched," he said.

"There will have to be a slight adjustment to the way we operate but I want to reassure the public that we will be working as hard as ever to keep this town safe and deal with residents' concerns, crime and incidents that arise."

Felixstowe has six officers transferring, retiring or being promoted and their posts will not be replaced and will be transferred to Lowestoft instead.

It will mean the loss of one of the five teams of response officers at the resort.

There is bound to be some impact on policing and residents' biggest concerns will be over numbers of officers to deal with nightlife problems at weekends.

Senior officers say restructuring of the eastern sector of Suffolk police has become necessary in order to redeploy officers where there is currently the greatest need - the county's second biggest town.

Since last summer there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of crime and incidents there with the number of calls up by hundreds every month.

Officers in Lowestoft are also on average dealing with 20 per cent more work than colleagues elsewhere in the Eastern area.

Eastern area operation manager Supt John Everett - a former sector commander at both Felixstowe and Lowestoft - said the changes were designed to improve the service being provided to residents across the area in the long term.

"While we appreciate that this may be seen as a 'loss' from one sector to another, looking at the bigger picture the changes will allow us to be more flexible and responsive to the needs of all communities - however big or small - in the Eastern area," he said.

n What effect do you think having less officers will have at Felixstowe? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

backgrounder:

LOWESTOFT is one of Suffolk's crime hot-spots.

In the past eight months the numbers of calls received by police from the town has increased by hundreds a month. A quarter of the crime in the town is criminal damage.

Since last summer officers from Felixstowe, Woodbridge, Leiston and Beccles have been regularly sent to the town, on a shift system, as part of Operation Hazel to try to relieve the pressure on their colleagues.

But senior officers realised they had to look at long-term staffing solutions and began research which showed that officers there were dealing with 20pc more work and the ratio of officers to population was inadequate.

Lowestoft will get eight extra posts, and there will be five further posts in the events resolution unit.

Suffolk now has 1,297 full-time police officers - 44 more than this time last year - and 138,000 nationally.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter