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South Suffolk MP concerned by recent rise in serious rural crime

Pictured: James Cartlidge MP. (2529995)
Pictured: James Cartlidge MP. (2529995)

The MP for South Suffolk says more constituents feel they are living in more violent times, following a recent rise in serious crime in the county.

During a debate on rural crime in Parliament last week, James Cartlidge said many people shared concerns about the spate of serious incidents in Suffolk over the last few months, most recently the sexual assault of a teenage girl in Sudbury on Bank Holiday Monday.

Mr Cartlidge paid tribute to Suffolk Police for the swift investigation that has already led to a 28-year-old man being arrested and charged with the rape, at a time when the force is also dealing with the murder of a teenage boy in Ipswich.

But he told the Commons: “The sense of greater violence is impossible to escape, and I’m afraid this is borne out in the figures for Suffolk – a 29 per cent increase in violent crime in the year to September 2017.

“The context of this is an overall fall in recorded crime since 2010, and it has to be said, at a time when, because of the funding pressures we were under, we have seen significant reductions in police numbers. I’d be the first to accept that.

“If we have seen such a fall in crime when police numbers have been falling, it can not simply be the case that police numbers are the sole determinate of this level of crime.

“To me, this spike in violence is a relatively recent phenomenon and what I want us to do is move away from this political bric-a-brac of how many police stations have been closed and instead try to understand why we are seeing this change.”

Mr Cartlidge cited the growing county lines phenomenon, which has led to spreading violence and drug crime, and social media as factors, and said he would be in favour of legislation that could ensure companies take action against criminal activity being incited on their platforms.

He added that he strongly supported the use of precepts to fund the police, over changing the national funding formula, arguing that, while a precept increase may cost more than an increase in central taxation, there was a guarantee the money would be spent in the county.

“Although police numbers may not directly cause the changes in crime rates, we need the officers there if we are to resource our forces to deal with these changing patterns of crime,” he said.

“I think for those of us who are rural MPs, we should look into the hard stats and evidence. If you want to go to a government department and ask for a spending formula change to favour rural areas, you have to have the evidence to show you need the extra funding.

“What I would like to see is more parish policing, where parishes have the opportunity to fund their own PCSOs.

“If our villages and rural communities want to have the added value of extra presence in their communities, they should be prepared to see that on top of the precept as well.

“With the local funding formula, it is transparent and they know money will be spent in their county.

“We should use it to have more officers on our beat so they can provide greater security and comfort to our constituents.”