Suffolk lowest in region on gun crime

POLICE have recorded fewer firearms offences in Suffolk in the past 12 months than in any other area of East Anglia, new figures have revealed.The county also had the third lowest number of firearms offences across the whole of the country and saw incidents fall from 22 in 2000-01 to 15 last year.

POLICE have recorded fewer firearms offences in Suffolk in the past 12 months than in any other area of East Anglia, new figures have revealed.

The county also had the third lowest number of firearms offences across the whole of the country and saw incidents fall from 22 in 2000-01 to 15 last year.

The figures, which have been released by the Home Office, show firearms incidents in Essex increased from 77 in 2000-01 to 98 last year.

They were released on the day a Home Office report showed residents in Suffolk had greater confidence in their police force than in other areas of East Anglia.

Police recorded 26 firearms incidents in Norfolk last year compared to 20 in 2000-01 and Cambridgeshire saw offences rise from 31 in 2000-01 to 49 last year.

Assistant Chief Constable of Essex Police, Liam Brigginshaw, said: "We remain confident that Essex is one of the safest counties.

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"Incidents of gun crime are very rare – we welcome any legislation to remove illegally held weapons and bring offenders to justice."

A spokesman for the force said the county had an unfair reputation for gun crimes due to high profile incidents such as the Stansted hi-jacking or the gangland murders in Rettendon.

He said: "We give gun crime our highest priority, but it is not a big problem here."

A second Home Office report, which combines data from police-recorded statistics and the British Crime Survey, showed levels of public confidence and satisfaction with the police for different forces throughout the country.

It found residents in Suffolk are more satisfied with their local force than in other areas of the region and believe it is effective in bringing people to justice.

Acting Chief Constable of Suffolk, Gillian Parker, said: "I am very encouraged that Suffolk is placed first in the region.

"However, it is clear that we still need to work harder to inform and reassure the public about some issues.

"Suffolk has the second highest detection rate in England and in contrast to national trends, levels of crime are showing a slight decrease.

"Despite these statistics, this report has indicated that there is some concern about how effective the force is in reducing crime and how promptly and effectively cases are dealt with."

Nationally, figures showed gun crime across England and Wales had soared by 35% last year.

Criminals used handguns in 46% more offences and firearms were used in 9,974 recorded crimes in the 12 months to last April - up from 7,362.

It was the fourth consecutive year to see a rise and there were more than 2,200 more gun crimes last year than the previous peak in 1993.

Figures showed the number of crimes involving handguns had more than doubled since the post-Dunblane massacre ban on the weapons, from 2,636 in 1997-1998 to 5,871.

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