Suffolk: Police step up their war against muggers

IPSWICH: Police are today stepping up their war against muggers by increasing the number of robbery squad officers in the town.

Ipswich’s top police officer said the move comes in response to growing concerns over a rise in robberies, particularly those involving knives.

Although officers acknowledge there has been a noticeable increase in street robberies this year, they pointed out the volume of offences are roughly the same as the average for the past three years.

High-visibility and covert patrols will be part of the strategy aimed at tackling the problem, and known offenders will be targeted.

Superintendent Martin Ransome said: “We are deploying additional officers into the priority crime team to focus on tackling robbery offences within Ipswich.

“Effectively, we are responding to what people have told us, directly and indirectly, about being concerned about this type of crime.

“The launch of this robbery squad shows we are listening, as well as taking prompt and proactive action.

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“Overall crime in Ipswich has reduced compared to this time last year. However, there has been an increase in robbery of personal possessions which were three offences above the average for the past three years.

“These are nasty offences which leave the victim distressed, particularly if they have been threatened with a knife.

“We will not tolerate violence-related offences and will do all we can to prevent them by dealing effectively with those people who are responsible. If anyone has information about people committing robberies or carrying knives, they can contact us anonymously through Crimestoppers, or by ringing 101.

“The priority crime team will respond to that information and deal directly with the people who are identified.”

In addition to the targeted high-visibility and covert patrols around the town and the monitoring of known offenders, the extra officers are said to be giving increased impetus to solving existing cases.

Suffolk Constabulary figures show that in 2008/09 there were 198 robberies in Ipswich. The following year there were 168 offences, while in 2010/11 that rose to 188.

Anyone with information which could help police should telephone Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or Suffolk Constabulary on 101.

A woman who suffered a terrifying street robbery has today spoken of her horrifying ordeal.

Gemma Lacey was set upon by a man in Birkfield Drive, Chantry.

He punched her to the floor before kicking her in the head as she lay on the pavement.

The 24-year-old, who was attacked as she walked home from a friend’s birthday, has welcomed moves by Suffolk police to increase patrols.

Miss Lacey, who was left with a fractured cheekbone and abdominal injuries following the attack, said: “I definitely welcome this, it’s worthwhile. It’s becoming more and more of a problem in the Chantry area so this step is very welcome.”

Miss Lacey – who was home for the weekend from RAF Marham in Norfolk, where she works – said a man had crossed the street to ask her for the time when the unprovoked attack happened.

“He then punched me in the face three times and I fell to the floor,” she said. “He continued to kick me in the face several times.

“I was saying: ‘What do you want? If you want my phone it’s on the floor.’

“He took my phone and then said: ‘Give me your watch or I’ll stab you.’

“I’m quite nervous going out now, I don’t like going out in the dark on my own.”

She backed calls to improve the estate’s street lighting.

“It’s mainly about raising awareness – there’s just no street lights down there [Birkfield Drive],” she said.

The attack happened around 12.15am on Sunday, November 20.