Rise in knife crime and violent offences in west Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 19:10 13 May 2019 | UPDATED: 19:10 13 May 2019
Knife crimes and violent offences have increased in west Norfolk, a public meeting heard tonight.
But anti-social behaviour and burglaries are down thanks to more officers and their hard work.
Norfolk's police and crime commissioner Lorne Green hosted the question and answer session at King's Lynn Town Hall, with the county's chief constable Simon Bailey.
It began with a report from divisional commander Supt David Buckley, which said knife crimes had increased by 35pc year on year, from 60 to 96 in west Norfolk.
"This is a recognised national trend, which is being addressed by additional patrols and education of targeted groups," he said.
The report showed violent offences increased from 2,742 to 3,349, while 86 police officers were assaulted in 2018 - a nine pc increase.
Lynn Sector Insp Rob Button said changes in the way crimes were now recorded accounted for the background figure. He said they meant two children arguing in a playground could now be recorded as a violent crime, while the number of serious assaults had not increased.
Drug arrests were up by 14pc, from 399 to 457, thanks to pro-active patrols aimed at dealers.
Anti-social behaviour had seen a 13pc reduction in west Norfolk, from 175 offences to 140, alongside a five year reduction of 34pc.
Insp Button said increased officer numbers and their hard work were "paying dividends".
Domestic burglaries fell from 505 tp 395, a 17pc reduction.
Some 15 members of the public attended. Questions from the floor included how the force worked to target thefts from vans, by a West Lynn man who lost tools after his vehicle was targeted on a number of occasions before being stolen.
When asked by the man whether he had ever had anything stolen and how he felt, Mr Bailey said he had and it was "horrible".
The man asked why there were three officers on the door of the meeting, while it took officers two weeks to attend after his break-ins.
Mr Bailey said making PCSOs redundant had enabled the force to recruit more than 100 extra officers, who were able to do more pro-active work targeting the crimes which hurt people the most.
He said the force was now targeting organised crime "robustly" and the last year had seen a fall in burglaries in west Norfolk.
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"Crime is changing it is becoming more sophisticated and we are targeting those we believe are responsible," he said.
Mr Bailey said some 12pc of offences were "screened out" and not investigated because there was no prospect of a conviction.
Another man said he was pleased to see a fall in anti-social behaviour and Lynn bus station was a more pleasant place to be.
Supt Buckley said information from the public had enabled officers to deal with the most prolific offenders.
Borough councillor Lesley Bambridge said there were five licensed premises in her town centre St Nicholas ward where there were problems with anti-social behaviour.
She asked what support residents might have from police if they asked for a review of their licences.
Supt Buckley said the night time economy had a dedicated team which shared information with the local authority. He said Miss Bambridge should bring any issues to him.
Other issues included speeding drivers on Vancouver Avenue in King's Lynn, with speeds of up to 60mph recorded by a reminder sign.
Supt Buckley said neighbourhood teams had been tasked with looking at the issue.
Mr Green said more community engagement was needed to bring parties together.
One question sent in by e-mail was whether a student would be better to work as a drug dealer than continue her study.
Mr Bailey said the great challenge was that while there was demand there would always be those willing to deal them.
He said police had to work with those who used drugs as well as those who sold them.
"We have to be realistic about this," he said. "We have to develop a holistic response."
He added the response to the question was no, because police were making large numbers of arrests.
Tomorrow Mr Green will quiz Mr Bailey on progress against the county's police and crime plan at the meeting.
Items on the agenda will include an update on the police budget and what the force is doing to support victims of crime.
The meeting will take place between 10am and 12-noon in the Filby Room at Norfolk police HQ, Wymondham.