Town suffers 71pc increase in violence and sexual assaults
- Credit: PA
Lowestoft has seen a 71pc rise in violence and sexual offences in just two years, according to the latest Home Office figures.
In 2015, 1,716 incidents were recorded in the town, increasing to 2,941 in 2017.
The figures, published online monthly, show the offences accounted for 33pc of all crimes committed in the town last year.
Mary Rudd, Waveney District Council's cabinet member for community health and safety, said the council is 'very concerned' at the sharp increase.
She said: 'Although this sort of crime is relatively rare in our area the council is committed to doing what it can to support the work of police and other agencies to reverse this trend and make Lowestoft a safer place for everyone.'
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On average 143 incidents involving violence and sexual offences were reported each month in 2015.
This rose to a monthly average of 175 incidents in 2016, which recorded 2,098 overall, and finally to 245 incidents per month in 2017.
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And since November 2016, more than 200 incidents have been reported each month – with July 2017 recording the highest number of incidents at 283.
Ms Rudd said the council takes a leading role in the local Community Safety Partnership and is planning to consider the issue at an upcoming meeting in order to understand more about type of violent crime and sexual offences being committed and how it can act accordingly to prevent them.
Suffolk's police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore branded the crimes as 'dreadful'.
He said: 'Serious sexual offences and violent crime are particularly unpleasant and that is why I have allocated extra resources to the constabulary since I was elected to focus on these two areas.
'A huge amount of work has also been done with the voluntary sector to encourage all victims to report these dreadful crimes and to give them the support and help to rebuild their lives.
'I am pretty confident there is now a much greater willingness to report these crimes which is good.
'But the figures clearly show there is more to be done across the community and all agencies to tackle this problem head on.'
The town has suffered an increase in crime overall within the same period, although this has been less drastic.
In 2015, 8,255 crimes were recorded in Lowestoft, rising 8.5pc to 8,955 in 2017.
Possible reason for increase
Suffolk Police said forces across the country have witnessed a similar rise in violent crime and sexual offences over the past two years and suggested an increased willingness of victims to come forward is behind the change.
A spokesman said: 'It is acknowledged there has been a shift in the recorded levels of crimes such as sexual offences and domestic abuse.
'In the past many of these offences have remained behind closed doors but we are now seeing more people come forward to report them.
'It is to their credit that individuals now find the confidence to talk to police about what happened.
'We want to encourage victims of any sexual assault to continue to speak to us and feel confident in assessing the specialist support they need.
'Any allegation will be fully investigated and we have dedicated specially trained officers who work with the victims of rape and sexual assault.'