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Sudbury Town Council requests increase in police patrols after series of late-night assaults since end of coronavirus lockdown

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A sequence of late-night assaults in Sudbury since the end of the coronavirus lockdown has sparked a call for more front-line police officers in the town.

Sudbury Town Council voted to request a greater visible on-foot policing presence within the town after expressing concerns about the recent crime rate and the police response to it.

Since the lifting of lockdown restrictions in July, a number of serious crimes have been reported in Sudbury, including a sexual assault in an alleyway off Cornard Road in the early hours of August 28.

Police patrol. Stock image.
Police patrol. Stock image.

Violent assaults have also been recorded on August 8, between King Street and East Street, on September 11 in King Street, and on October 3 in East Street – the last of which saw a 24-year-old man arrested in relation to an attack with a broken bottle.

At a full town council meeting this week, members suggested the lifting of lockdown restrictions and the rise in alcohol consumption after bars and nightclubs reopened was a contributing factor to the sudden spike in incidents.

Sudbury mayor Sue Ayres confirmed she would write directly to Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore, on behalf of the town council, to ask for an increase in police patrols.

Councillor Tim Regester argued that, despite claims of investment to boost police recruitment in Suffolk, he believed the numbers were still below what they were prior to earlier budget cuts.

He told Tuesday night’s meeting: “I live on Market Hill now and, during lockdown, it was a sea of calm, because we didn’t hear all the riotous drunk people at three in the morning.

“We now hear them every Saturday night and some week nights. The incidents in King Street and East Street don’t surprise me.

“We don’t have enough front-line police on the street. That’s the only way to stop this happening.”

Official crime statistics indicate that the number of reported crimes in Sudbury remained steady from October 2018 to July 2021, apart from a spike when the first Covid-19 lockdown lifted between July and September last year.

However, town councillors also heard the findings of national data analysis project CrimeRate.co.uk, which described Sudbury as “the most dangerous small town in Suffolk”.

The website, which compiles public data from police forces across the country, reported that the crime rate in Sudbury in 2020 was 103 incidents per 1,000 people – comparing poorly with Suffolk’s overall crime rate during that year.

Councillors also lamented the lack of a police representative at town council meetings, because it prevented them from asking about the distribution of officers in Sudbury, and where problems are occurring.

Deputy town mayor Ellen Murphy stated that, in addition to improved visible policing, she also wanted to see a notification system to let residents know when a crime had happened in their area.

“At one time, we got notifications on our phones of burglaries that had occurred, so you would be more aware and could warn your neighbours,” she said. “That seems to have stopped.

“I would like police to notify us, especially town councillors, of crimes in the area and then we can speak to neighbours. We have all got our patch and then we can take care of that area.

“I still ask for visible policing in Sudbury, and I don’t mean in cars – I mean visible police foot patrols, collecting evidence and listening to people, because listening helps crime prevention.

“I saw two officers patrolling in North Street recently and I was going to take a picture, because it’s such a rare sight.

“We seem to be ignored in this town,” she added.

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