Dramatic increase in violence and sexual offences in Lowestoft

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore recently made calls for a county-wide CCTV networ

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore recently made calls for a county-wide CCTV network to ease demand on officers. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Lowestoft has suffered its most violent start to the year in recent times, according to the latest Home Office figures.

In January and February this year 451 incidents of violence and sexual offences were recorded in the town.

This represents an 116pc rise in incidents of this sort when compared to the same period in 2015 – when 209 were recorded.

In 2016 256 incidents were recorded during January and February, rising in 2017 to 426.

One violent incident in January this year saw a teenager suffer shotgun wounds in what police described as a 'targeted attack' while in February a 14-year old boy was punched in the face by two grown men.

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Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore branded the crimes 'horrendous' and 'dreadful'.

He said: 'Any incident of this type is a concern.'

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However Mr Passmore attributed part of the rise to the increased willingness of victims to come forward and report the crimes.

He said: 'More people now have the confidence to come forward and report it.'

The commissioner explained dealing with this type of crime 'remains a priority' for the force and said: 'Lowestoft is the second biggest town in Suffolk and will continue to get its fair share of policing and resources.'

He added: 'It is a national issue but we have got to do what we can in Suffolk.'

Suffolk Police have said forces around the country have experienced a similar rise in reports of such crimes.

A police spokes man said: 'The increase in recorded sexual offences reflects a national push to encourage victims to report crimes against them, whether it happened recently or in the past.

'We take all reports of this nature extremely seriously and will do everything we can to investigate whilst signposting to the agencies that can be of greatest help in times of need.

'While we understand that victims may not want to tell police immediately what has happened to them, we want to encourage anyone to continue to speak to us and feel confident in accessing the specialist support they need.'

While the number of violence and sexual offences recorded in the town has increased the rate of this increase appears to have slowed down.

In the 12 months to the end of February 2018 the town suffered a 31pc increase in incidents.

In the six months to the same date this rate of increase fell to 16pc growth and has finally dropped to 11pc growth in the latest three months to February.

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