Police arrest 350 wanted suspects as crime falls by 18% during lockdown

Two men have been arrested after police raided a car park in Felixstowe Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Two men have been arrested after police raided a car park in Felixstowe Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

An 18% fall in crime and low sickness rate meant that officers from Suffolk were able to round up 350 outstanding suspects while the county was in lockdown.

The force has revealed that they pro-actively targeted their list of 1,189 outstanding suspects between March 18 and May 9 as the county stayed at home.

Suffolk police reported a lower sickness rate than other forces nationally, according to a report based on their response to the coronavirus crisis between March 18 and May 9.

The report did identify some challenges for the constabulary including an estimated £325,000 cost pressure after unexpected spends on items such a PPE and remote working IT – and from income lost to suspended speed awareness courses.

But a meeting of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) Accountability and Performance Panel heard the constabulary had been proactive in making a high number of arrests for burglary, robbery and ‘county lines’ drug dealing.

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It also heard that vehicle crime, shoplifting and theft were a third lower in the four weeks after social distancing came into force compared to the same period in 2019, with total crime down 18% in the four weeks after lockdown began.

Other areas of service like safeguarding saw little change in investigation demand.

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Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Kearton said a potential rise in domestic abuse was also of concern, but that the full impact would only become clear as more victims report after lockdown.

In the meantime, a safeguarding group has identified 6,000 and prioritised 600 of the most at risk known victims – with no crimes since recorded against the group.

The 18% fall in crime compared to a 28% reduction nationally – a difference Dep Ch Cons Kearton said needed further exploration, while acknowledging that the force’s decision to prioritise the arrest of outstanding suspects may have played a part in this.

When it came to staff sickness, Suffolk recorded levels below the national average, with 4.6% of officers and 5.9% of staff reporting sick or isolating as of May 13.

Meanwhile, Suffolk was placed around the middle of 43 police forces for Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) issued as a last resort in its ‘four Es’ (engage, explain, encourage, enforce) approach to Coronavirus Act powers – with 311 FPNs issued and a total of 14 arrests made for breaches in the six weeks from March 26.

PCC Tim Passmore said the force’s overall response had been excellent, adding: “There are opportunities, when something like this happens, to look again at how things work; to make a real difference and perhaps transform parts of the public sector.”

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