Knife crime up in Suffolk but county remains safe, police say
Knife crime increased by almost 10% across Suffolk last year, latest statistics have shown.
Total recorded crime increased by 3% in the county and 16% in Essex – against a national 7% average increase – according to figures for the last calendar year.
Concerns have been raised over the growing number of crimes with long-term impacts on victims after both counties saw annual rises in violence, sex assaults and robberies.
Knife and sharp instrument offences went up 8% across Suffolk last year to 208, compared to 6% across the country, completing a 16% rise since the year ending March 2011.
But police insisted the chances of being a victim of any crime remained slim, compared to the national rate.
Specialists support workers said offences against the person – such as violence, sexual assault, stalking and harassment – could have a long-term physical and emotional impact on the lives of victims.
Robbery went up by 29% in Suffolk – almost one in eight involving knives – and 12% in Essex, while violence, sex crime, stalking, drugs and weapons possession also increased across both counties, along with public order offences.
This month Freddie Cook, 23, of Ashcroft Road, Ipswich, was jailed for 10 years and six months after admitting a violent robbery in Hepworth and coming clean about another 20 offences between last April and this January 2019, including burglaries, attempted robbery, theft and aggravated vehicle taking.
David Padgett, contract manager for Essex at Victim Support, said: “It's concerning to see the number of crimes against the person – such as violence, sexual assault, stalking and harassment – go up so significantly.
“These crimes can be particularly distressing for victims and can have long-term impacts both physically and emotionally.
“What's important is that victims know there is independent support available to them, whether or not they choose to report to the police.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, of Suffolk police, said the county remained one of the safest in England and Wales, with a crime rate of 71.5 offences per 1,000 people, and falling reports of burglary and criminal damage.
Some additional offences were down to the increasing confidence of victims coming forward, he added.
“Suffolk Constabulary is managing an overall increase in the numbers of crimes reported alongside a rise in the nature of their complexity.
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“Crime committed on-line, crimes against the most vulnerable and the national threat from county lines drug operations mean we need to make challenging decisions on how to make the very best use of the resources and the budgets that we have.”
An operational restructure in 2018 put more than 100 officers into safer neighbourhood teams, with further investment in the local policing response planned throughout 2019.
Det Ch Supt Bridger added: “The force continues to monitor and analyse where, when and what type of crime occurs, so we can ensure our response is dynamic and effective.
“We can't do this by ourselves, and the support and assistance we receive from the public is absolutely key. The response we receive each time we appeal for help to prevent crime or catch criminals is really important to us.
“Preventing and detecting crime also requires effective partnerships, and in Suffolk we have strong support from a range of partners in the public, voluntary and private sectors.”
A spokesman for Essex Police said the county continued to be a safe place to live, work and study, with a lower than average crime rate of 83 offences per 1,000 people, and fewer than average victims of violence resulting in injury, sexual offences, robbery and theft, while burglary fell by more than 660 across the county in 12 months.
“Crime is increasing across the country, and Essex is no different,” they added.
“We're particularly concerned about the increases in sexual offences, and the violent crime connected to domestic abuse and displayed by drugs gangs.
“That's why we continue to invest in teams investigating domestic abuse, rape and child sexual exploitation, and drug and street gangs, as well as increasing our visible policing presence.”
More than £1.5 million of additional funding, secured from the Home Office, will be used to increase activity around street violence and knife crime, while a combined £1.1m from central government and the county council will establish a Violence and Vulnerability Unit comprising the police, youth offending team and other agencies.
“Roughly a third of all violent crime is domestic related, a third is gang or drug related, and a third is related to the nighttime economy,” said the force.
“Added to the fact that just eight people per 1,000 in Essex are impacted by violence with injury offences, it means members of the public are really unlikely to be a victim.”
Essex Police said an increase in drugs and weapons possession actually represented positive work by officers in community or local teams carrying out stop-and-searches, or Operation Raptor teams targeting and disrupting gangs.
Victim Support provides specialist support to victims and witnesses.
For help and information, contact the charity's free 24/7 supportline number on 0808 1689 111 or via the website victimsupport.org.uk.
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