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Public sector has ‘moral obligation’ to tackle Ipswich’s problem with drugs, gangs and violence

PUBLISHED: 15:06 21 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:07 21 June 2018

Suffolk police and crime commissioner and senior Suffolk Constabulary officers at the accountabilty and performance panel meeting Picture: SANDRA GRAFFHAM

Suffolk police and crime commissioner and senior Suffolk Constabulary officers at the accountabilty and performance panel meeting Picture: SANDRA GRAFFHAM

Sandra Grafham

Suffolk’s public sector has been urged to “wake up” and help tackle the rising violence that has been claiming young lives in Ipswich.

Tavis Spencer-Aitkens Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYTavis Spencer-Aitkens Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said there was a “moral obligation” to do more to support Suffolk Constabulary in addressing the underlying causes of the recent crime wave.

His comments come after the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Tavis Spencer-Aitkens in Nacton earlier this month which was followed by two further stabbings, the third at Ravenswood McDonald’s on Wednesday, June 13 left a 16-year-old boy critically injured and the community in shock.

Mr Passmore said previously he is committed to helping police tackle the violent crime, much of which is linked to London drugs gangs plying their trade in Ipswich via so-called county lines.

At this morning’s police accountability and performance panel meeting Mr Passmore also called for public bodies to do more.

He said the underlying problems to the recent escalation of violence related to a lack of activities and opportunities for young people.

“There’s a moral obligation in the public sector to do a lot more than it has,” Mr Passmore added.

“It’s about time the public sector jolly well woke up to some of this.

“If you leave a community abandoned then it ends up in despair.

“This is about how do we move forward and put things right; it’s going to take a long time but the longer you leave it the harder it becomes.”

Mr Passmore said the violence in Ipswich was “probably the most serious short term threat, not just in Ipswich, but for Suffolk as a whole”.

He said the causes were “complicated” and could not be solved by the state alone.

“We all have to pull together as a community,” he added.

He warned society had become “rather ambivalent” to the parental responsibilities over teaching children right and wrong - and that needed to be addressed.

From a policing point of view, Mr Passmore said he supported redeploying resources to focus on the current problems, if necessary.

Chief constable Gareth Wilson said the recent police focus on drugs, gangs and violence in Ipswich was not new.

“I wouldn’t want people to think that we’re only responding to these latest incidents,” he said.

“We’ve placed significant resources to tackle these issues over an extended period of time, far before the most recent event had taken place.

“It has been an absolute priority for the organisation.”

Assistant chief constable Rachel Kearton, who has been leading the recent operation, said specialist teams had been set up to tackle gang problems with an investment of £465,000.

She said the visible police presence following Tavis’s stabbing would continue “at least” until the end of summer.

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