Robbery soars 37% in Suffolk but crime rate stays below national average
PUBLISHED: 05:30 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 10:11 25 January 2019
Robberies soared by more than a third in Suffolk last year - as new figures revealed an overall increase in recorded crime across the county.
Police recorded a 37% increase in robbery to 436 recorded between September 2017 and 2018, according to the latest annual figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
Overall crime increased by 5.8% in Suffolk - against an 8% rise across England and Wales.
The rate of crime per 1,000 residents remains lower in Suffolk (71.1) than on average across the country (86.4).
While weapons possession increased by 18% to 421, offences involving the actual use of knives or sharp instruments fell by 15% – although the reported fall is likely to be related more to how crime is recorded than the number of offences having taken place, and police are working with the Home Office on a way of better reflecting the proportion of crimes in future data.
There were also falls in other types of crime, including and drugs and public order offences (both down 7% to 1,360 and 4,944).
In the same time, Suffolk Constabulary hired 50 officers but dispensed of 14 PCSOs and 28 specials.
A restructure of neighbourhood policing then put more than 100 police officers into Suffolk safer neighbourhood teams in October.
The Home Office workforce figures were released on the same day as publication of the annual crime statistics – and as the Home Secretary announced aggregate amount of grants for each force in the latest police funding settlement for 2019/20.
Suffolk stands to gain £41m in core funding, almost £23m from the former Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) funding formula, along with a £6.8m in legacy council tax grants, payable to local policing bodies which chose to freeze or lower their share of council tax between 2011 and 2016.
The police and crime commissioner proposed a council tax precept increase this year to pay for the recruitment of additional officers.
Suffolk police are continuing to investigate an attempted armed robbery in Beccles on December 18, when two men entered the Oliver & J jewellery store just before 4.30pm and threatened members of staff with a knife before leaving empty handed.
This week, detectives released CCTV images of two men with their faces covered by scarves – both wanted in connection with the attempted armed raid.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has urged commissioners to make tackling violence against shop workers a key priority.
It welcomed new commitments from Home Office minister Victoria Atkins to address the issue of violence and abuse against retailers.
An extraordinary meeting of the group on will focus exclusively on violence and abuse toward shop workers in February.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said violence against shop workers was a serious issue, affecting thousands of people on a regular basis.
He added: “Tackling violence against shop workers must be a key priority for all authorities – all the way from central government, through to police and crime commissioners and local beat police, and this must include targeted action to deal with shop theft, which is one of the most common triggers of abuse, along with challenging attempted underage sales.”
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable David Cutler said: “The Suffolk figures show a similar picture to that seen nationally.
“Some of the additional offences we record are down to the increasing confidence that victims have in reporting to us. However, we have continued to review and adapt the way in which we work to ensure we keep communities and individual safe and focus on preventing crime.
“In order to ensure we remain able to respond appropriately it is important that our policing model has the flexibility, capability and resilience that is required.
“We continually monitor and analyse where and what type of crime occurs so we can ensure our response is dynamic and effective. We gather information and intelligence from a wide array of sources to ensure we are can take the appropriate actions at the first opportunity.
“Our skilled and capable workforce of police officers, Police Community Support Officers, police staff, Special Constabulary and police volunteers work together to make Suffolk a safe place.
“It is not only the increase in the numbers of crime we are managing but also the increase in their complexity. 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.
“We remain absolutely determined to ensure that as a Constabulary we continue to do everything we can to protect the communities we serve and those who are the most vulnerable in our society.”
“We can’t do this by ourselves and the support and assistance we receive from the public is absolutely key.
“We do not take this public trust and confidence lightly and continue to work tirelessly to the benefit of our communities. 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.”