'What has Lowestoft come to?' - Worrying crime figures after stabbings, teen attacks and assaults on the homeless
PUBLISHED: 06:30 02 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:13 02 November 2018
Lowestoft has been hit by a surge in violent crime, latest Home Office figures have revealed.
Between January and August this year there have been 2,026 violent and sexual offences reported in the town - a 4.5pc increase from the same period last year.
Earlier this year it was revealed the town suffered a 71pc increase in violent and sexual offences between 2015 and 2017.
And the worrying trend looks set to be continuing.
On Friday, October 26, two men were stabbed in separate incidents just hours apart in the town centre.
The first happened in Station Square shortly before 5.20pm and the victim was left with cuts to his head and neck.
Jason Hamilton, 46, of Suffolk Road has since been charged with malicious wounding, possession of a bladed article in a public place and theft.
He has been remanded in custody and will appear at Ipswich Crown Court on November 26.
Later that evening, at 11.40pm police were called to High Street following reports a man in his 40s had been stabbed in the chest.
The injured man was taken to James Paget University Hospital for treatment.
Following questioning at Great Yarmouth Police Investigation Centre, James Bowler, 49, of Crown Street West was charged with grievous bodily harm, assault and possession of an offensive weapon.
He is likewise remanded in custody and will appear before Ipswich Crown Court on November 26.
Violent and sexual offences account for 37pc of all offences committed across the town this year.
And for businesses in the town centre the sight of violence is becoming an almost daily occurrence.
Giles Barr-Thomson opened Ruckus MMA and Fitness Gym in London Road North last month and said he sees violence in the town most days.
He witnessed the aftermath of Friday’s first stabbing outside his business and helped administer first aid to the victim.
The 39-year-old said: “I went to high school in Lowestoft and coming back has been a bit of an eye-opener for me.
“Since we have been here we see something almost every night. The amount of people I’ve seen square up and then start throwing punches. It’s not every day but it happened a lot during the week.
“From what I can gather it is happening in Norwich and Great Yarmouth as well.
“For me I just think ‘blimey what has Lowestoft come to?’”
The Friday night stabbings are not the first to shock the town this year.
In July, 28-year-old father Scott Tarrant died after he was stabbed multiple times at a home in Underwood Close.
Mr Barr-Thomson admitted there were times when he feared being stabbed in the town centre and slammed the use of knives across the town.
He said: “It’s a quick thing to do, it’s cowardly. People aren’t just using their fists to fight.”
October also saw a spate of attacks by teenagers take place across the town.
At around 12.45pm on Sunday, October 21 a pair of 14-year-old boys were verbally abused and then assaulted during an unprovoked attack by a group of teenagers at Nicholas Everitt Park.
Later that day, between 4pm and 4.45pm, a 15-year-old was left with facial injuries following an attack by a “pack” of teenage girls and a teenage boy along the Royal Thoroughfare.
The attack, which left the boy running for cover at the nearby South Pier Family Entertainment Centre with blood streaming down his nose, was branded as “disgusting” by appalled onlookers.
In recent months concerns have been raised about the large number of teenagers hanging outside McDonald’s in London Road North.
Mr Barr-Thomson has seen first hand the violence and anti-social activities carried out by the youths.
He said: “We have had the work going on in Station Square and kids have been chucking cones over the barriers at workers.”
“We have seen teenagers chucking drinks and milkshakes on the homeless and trying to run over homeless people’s feet on their bikes - thinking it’s funny.”
Waveney MP - ‘This is a source for concern’
Waveney MP Peter Aldous has admitted the rise in violence and sexual offences across Lowestoft “is a source of concern”.
He explained he had been aware of the issue for a number of months and believes “there is a need for more frontline police on the streets.”
Mr Aldous said: “From my perspective there is a national concern and it is important police and politicians respond to these concerns and make people feel safe.”
In 2016 there were on average 175 incidents involving violence and sexual offences each month, this rose to 245 per month in 2017.
This year an average of 253 incidents have been reported each month.
And the MP said it is important residents continue to report the crimes so the government are aware of the problems the town faces.
He added: “There will be a comprehensive spending review next year and this is an issue I will be highlighting and very much making the case Suffolk needs more officers on the streets to address these particular problems.”