Waveney crime figures revealed

CRIME across Waveney increased by almost 5pc last year.

Figures for 2010 compiled by the Suffolk Observatory using official government statistics show that Waveney saw the second highest number of crimes among the seven districts of Suffolk, with only the Ipswich area recording more.

But this week police sought to reassure local people that Suffolk was still among the safest places in the country to live, and urged them to play their part in the battle against crime.

Promising to continue a “zero-tolerance” approach and to target issues of greatest public concern, Waveney Superintendent Ian Sidney said that “much of the increase” was due to a rise in house burglaries from April to December. “There were 407 in 2010 compared to 326 in 2009 and this remains a priority for police, with 44.5pc of all crimes during this nine-month period being detected,” Supt Sidney said.

“We would renew appeals for residents to take crime reduction measures and to remain vigilant.”

Using data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Suffolk Observatory’s report shows that a total of 8,226 crimes were reported in Waveney from January to December 2010. In Ipswich there were 13,815 recorded crimes and 6,609 in St Edmundsbury. Mid-Suffolk was the safest district with 3,231 crimes reported during the year, followed by Babergh, Forest Heath and then Suffolk Coastal.

Particular hotspots in Waveney were the Harbour and Kirkley wards in Lowestoft, which reported 1,896 and 1,378 crimes respectively. However, two rural wards reported the equivalent of less than one crime a week – with 44 crimes recorded in The Saints and 48 in Blything.

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The official Suffolk police figures – which, unlike the ONS statistics, cover the 12 months from April 1 to March 31 – show that with three months of figures still to take into account, crime in Waveney is currently “up by 4.6pc” which is the equivalent of 273 offences.

But Suffolk police are keen to point out that they have also solved 2,458 crimes during this period (for April to December 2010), which is more than 500 up when compared to 1,953 solved during the same nine-month period in 2009.

Among the categories that have seen “significant falls”, according to police chiefs, are those involving most serious crime – where someone has suffered a significant injury – which is down by 7pc. Vehicle crime has fallen by 9pc and criminal damage is down by 6pc.

Police say incidents of anti-social behaviour, which is often described as the main bugbear of communities, are also down by 657, which equates to a 12.4pc reduction, while rowdy behaviour is down by 15.7pc, the equivalent of 502 incidents.

Suffolk chief constable Simon Ash said: “We’re committed to keeping our county safe – while tackling the issues in your town, neighbourhood or street that concern you. Crime has fallen again, resulting in the lowest crime rate in Suffolk for almost a decade. Robbery is down, criminal damage fell, vehicle crime dropped and we detected more serious drug offences.

“At the same time, anti-social behaviour in our communities has reduced by around 1000 incidents,” he added. “But there were increases in violent crime and house burglary, which will remain among our priorities.”

These sentiments were echoed by Supt Sidney. He said: “Clearly the Safer Neighbourhood team (SNT) presence in Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth has been important and the figures show lots of good stuff is happening in rural Waveney with Neighbourhood Watch and Pubwatch schemes.

“We are nine months into the (police) year and the really important message is that low level anti-social behaviour is well down and rowdy behaviour is also down.

“Quite simply, there are areas we are doing well, areas we can do better and areas where we need to be doing better. But while we are doing quite well we must not get complacent - we are grateful for the support of everyone but if you see anything unusual in your neighbourhood we want to hear from you.”

The Suffolk Observatory is a partnership between Choose Suffolk, Suffolk County Council, district and borough councils, NHS Suffolk and Suffolk Constabulary.

THE number of crimes recorded in our area 2009/10 are:

Beccles North 316

Beccles South 149

Blything 48

Bungay 319

Halesworth 179

The Saints 44

Worlingham 85