How we stay safe

Note:
On 1 April 2019:
West Suffolk Council replaced Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council.
East Suffolk Council replaced Suffolk Coastal District Council and Waveney District Council.
This State of Suffolk report was created before these changes, so gives information for the pre-2019 council areas.

 

1 Five key points   

  1. Suffolk Constabulary is committed to enhancing the quality of life for everyone in Suffolk. Suffolk Constabulary employs approximately 1,100 police officers, 940 members of police staff, and 240 Special Constables. (3.1 Crime)
     
  2. In 2017/18, more than 53,000 offences were recorded by Suffolk Police, which represents a 15% increase in the total number of crimes on the year before. The most commonly recorded crimes were theft offences (over 19,000) and violence against the person offences (nearly 17,000).  (3.1 Crime)
     
  3. Giving every child the best start in life is crucial in establishing a good foundation for future development. However, it is estimated that 1 in 5 children in England have been exposed to domestic abuse. (2 Why is staying safe important in Suffolk)
     
  4. There are 35 fire stations in Suffolk made up of 4 wholetime stations, 29 on-call stations and 2 day crewed stations. As at October 2018, the Service had 43 fire engines, and 608 uniformed staff. (3.2 Fire and rescue)
     
  5. In 2017/18, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) attended nearly 5,000 emergencies. More than 2,200 of these were false alarms, nearly 1,700 were fires and over 300 were Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs). (3.2.1 Incidents)

2 Why is staying safe important in Suffolk? 

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, most people do not experience crime. 2018 survey estimates show that around 1 in 5 adults experienced crime in the previous 12 months. When adults do experience crime, it is much more likely to involve offences such as fraud rather than robbery.[1]

However, for those who are the victim of crime, the impact on both physical and mental health can be serious. Physical injury may result directly from crimes such as assault, mugging or domestic abuse. While the physical effects of crime are relatively easy to recognise, the emotional and psychological effects can be harder to identify. Research indicates that crime victimisation impacts multiple areas of a person’s life, including parenting skills, impaired occupational functioning, higher rates of unemployment and problematic intimate relationships.[2]

Aside from the risk of being the victim of crime, anxiety about being a victim can erode individual wellbeing and community cohesion. It has been suggested that initial worry about crime harms health, which serves to further heighten worry about crime.[3]

The consequences of domestic abuse include the impact (mental, emotional, physical, social and financial) on the individual survivor and their family and children, and also the wider societal costs incurred by the police, health and other services. Some groups may face additional barriers to escaping domestic abuse or in accessing support or justice. Research suggests that nearly half (46.2%) of women in refuges had spent between two and 10 years in an abusive relationship, with 1 in 6 (17%) women enduring a violent relationship for more than 10 years.[4]

Giving every child the best start in life is crucial in establishing a good foundation for future development. However, it is estimated that 1 in 5 children in England have been exposed to domestic abuse.[5] It is also estimated that a significant majority of children exposed to domestic violence are affected by the experience in both the immediate and longer term.[6]

The association between exposure to domestic violence and adverse outcomes for children has been established for some time but there is now evidence suggesting that the association is causal.[7] Several meta analyses examining the effects of children’s experience of domestic violence have indicated that exposure is related to a range of subsequent emotional, behavioural and social problems.[8]–[10] The pathway is complicated, involving a child’s reaction to what they have seen and heard, the decrease in parental warmth and caring in a household where violence takes place, and the protective factors that ameliorate some of the negative effects.[6]

Like many parts of the UK, both county lines networks and urban street gangs are present in Suffolk. When a group establishes a network between an urban hub and a county location, into which drugs (primarily heroin and crack cocaine) are supplied, this is referred to as a County Lines Network.[11] These networks use branded mobile phone lines to receive orders from introduced customers. These groups commonly exploit young or vulnerable persons to achieve the storage and/or supply of drugs, movement of cash proceeds and to secure the use of dwellings (commonly referred to as cuckooing). County lines networks and urban street gangs are discrete groups. Ipswich is a priority borough for support in relation to gang and serious youth violence – it is a Home Office Ending Gang and Youth Violence area.[12] These issues, and violence more generally, are considered in detail in the Violence in Suffolk profile.

Aside from the obvious danger to life of being involved in a fire, research studies have associated fire disasters with a negative impact on the mental and physical health of victims, their families and professional and voluntary responders to the disasters.[13] These effects can be delayed in onset and can persist over a number of years. Fire and rescue services also deal with traumatic accidents and injuries, such as Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs), which have the potential for both serious injury or death and mental trauma.

3 What is the local picture?       

3.1 Crime

Suffolk Constabulary is committed to enhancing the quality of life for everyone in Suffolk. Suffolk Constabulary employs approximately 1,100 police officers, 940 members of police staff, and 240 Special Constables. There are a variety of teams, roles and functions within Suffolk Constabulary including: criminal justice services, specialist operations, forensic services, community safety, and information and intelligence.

3.1.1 All recorded crime

Figures on the number of crimes recorded by the police are published by the Office for National Statistics.[14] Within Suffolk, these figures can be broken down into the Community Safety Partnership areas of Ipswich, Suffolk Coastal, Waveney and Western Suffolk (comprising Babergh, Forest Heath, Mid Suffolk and St Edmundsbury). 

In the twelve months to March 2018, a total of 53,116 crimes (excluding offences of fraud, which are not included in local breakdowns) were recorded by the police in Suffolk. This represents a 15.5% increase in the total number of crimes on the year before. The highest year on year increase in total crimes within Suffolk was recorded in Waveney (22.9%; from 7,908 to 9,722 crimes).

The most commonly recorded crimes were theft offences (19,111 offences; 36.0% of all crime) and violence against the person offences (16,719 offences; 31.5% of all crime). Although absolute numbers were relatively low, the highest year on year increases for specific crimes were for drug offences (27.9%; from 1,214 to 1,553 crimes) and public order offences (35.2%; from 3,450 to 4,664 crimes).

Overall, Suffolk has lower crime rates than the England average (70.7 v 83.0 recorded crimes per 1,000 residents). However, there is variation between the Community Safety Partnership areas, with the recorded crime rates in Ipswich (116.2 per 1,000) and Waveney (83.0 per 1,000) being higher than and comparable to England, respectively. The recorded crimes rates in Suffolk Coastal (48.2 per 1,000) and Western Suffolk (57.5 per 1,000) were both lower than England. Nationally, average crime rates are lower in rural areas than urban areas.[15]

3.1.2 Victim-based crime

Victim-based crimes are those where a direct victim of an illegal activity has been identified. Examples of victim-based crimes include violence against the person and theft. These crimes are classified differently to crimes where an illegal activity has no direct victim (known as crimes against society). In Suffolk, victim-based crimes accounted for 6 in 7 (85.5%) crimes in 2017/18.

In 2017/18, theft offences accounted for more than 1 in 3 (36.0%) recorded crimes in Suffolk. The most common theft offences included shoplifting (4,148 crimes), vehicle offences (4,030 crimes) and residential burglary (2,950 crimes); violence against the person offences accounted for almost 1 in 3 (31.5%) recorded crimes in Suffolk. The most common violence against the person offences included violence without injury (7,338 crimes), violence with injury (5,365 crimes) and stalking and harassment (4,006 crimes). Other types of victim-based crime included criminal damage and arson (7,180 crimes) and sexual offences (2,031 crimes).

For the majority of victim-based crimes, crime rates were higher in Ipswich compared to England and lower or comparable in the other Community Safety Partnership areas.

3.1.3 Other crimes against society

Crimes where an illegal activity has no direct victim are classified as crimes against society. As a proportion of all crime in Suffolk, crimes against society accounted for 1 in 7 (14.5%) crimes in 2017/18. The most common crimes against society were public order offences (4,664 crimes) and drug offences (1,553 crimes). Crime against society rates were higher in Ipswich compared to England and lower or comparable in the other Community Safety Partnership areas.

3.1.4 Domestic abuse

In 2017/18, there were 10,995 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes in Suffolk (including both incidents classified as a crime and incidents not classified as a crime).[16] This equates to a rate of 15 incidents and crimes for every 1,000 residents, which is lower than the comparative rates for East of England (25 per 1,000 residents) and England (20 per 1,000 residents).

However, the rate of domestic abuse-related crimes (only incidents classified as a crime) in Suffolk (9 incidents per 1,000 residents) is comparable to the rates for East of England (9 per 1,000 residents) and England (10 per 1,000 residents).

3.2 Fire and rescue         

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has 35 fire stations located in Suffolk’s largest towns and villages.  Four stations are crewed 24/7 (Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft South, Ipswich East and Ipswich Princes Street) and two stations are ‘day crewed’, reverting to on-call crewing in the evenings and at weekends (Haverhill and Newmarket). The remaining 29 stations are crewed solely by on-call firefighters, who respond to the station when required. Due to the largely rural nature of the County, operational cover is heavily reliant on on-call firefighters.[17]

The three core activities delivered by SFRS are:

  • prevention
  • protection
  • response

SFRS prevention work focuses on preventing deaths, injuries and damage to property and the environment from fire and other emergencies. SFRS delivers many diverse programmes that enhance community safety, including road safety education, working with disaffected young people, working with young people in education, promoting healthier lifestyles with young people, and helping older people to live independently.

Community fire volunteers, prevention staff and firefighters carry out free Safer Home Visits and Safety in the Home checks for Suffolk’s most vulnerable residents. They fit safety features in homes such as smoke detectors and provide advice on safety, security and wellbeing. Where appropriate, people are referred to partner agencies such as Suffolk County Council’s Adult Social Care Team.

In 2017/18, SFRS staff:[17]

  • carried out more than 1,300 Safer Home Visits
  • fitted nearly 2,500 smoke detectors
  • delivered over 150 Youth Fire Safety events
  • worked on 215 other campaigns

SFRS also have responsibility to monitor fire safety in premises other than domestic dwellings. Premises are selected for audit based on the risk they may present to those who work in or visit them. Buildings where people sleep, such as hotels and residential care homes, are considered higher risk and are audited more frequently. 

3.2.1 Incidents

In 2017/18, fire control staff answered 8,687 ‘999’ calls for the Suffolk area, and crews attended 4,918 emergencies (Figure 1).[17]

Figure 1: Number of incidents attended by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service by incident type and year, 2013/14 to 2017/18 [17]

Figure 1. Number of incidents attended by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service by incident type and year, 2013/14 to 2017/18   Source: Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, “Statement of Assurance 2017/18,” 2018.

3.2.2 Primary and secondary fires  

In 2017/18, SFRS attended 824 primary fires, which are classified as fires in buildings, vehicles and outdoor structures, or any fire involving casualties, rescues, or fires attended by five or more fire engines. In the same period, SFRS attended 883 secondary fires, which includes fires in grassland, wasteland, derelict buildings, chimneys etc.[17]

The trend of primary and secondary fires in recent years has been relatively stable.

3.2.3 Road traffic collisions

The annual number of road traffic collisions (RTCs) attended by SFRS has decreased considerably over the last 20 years, from 479 (in the period 1994/95 – 1997/98) to 330 (in the period 2014/15 – 2017/18); this is a fall of almost a third (31.1%). SFRS work closely with stakeholders and agencies as part of Suffolk’s Roadsafe Board in order to reduce the number of RTCs in the County.[17]

3.2.4 Special service incidents

The increased number of Special Service incidents attended by SFRS in 2016/17 and 2017/18 can be accounted for by a trial scheme between SFRS and the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST). The trial involved operational fire crews in Suffolk responding to certain medical emergencies within their communities.[17]

3.2.5 False alarms

Over the last five years, false alarms have accounted for nearly half (47%) of all incidents attended by SFRS. False alarms are categorised in to three types: due to apparatus, due to good intent and due to malicious intent. In 2017/18, SFRS attended 2,215 calls which turned out to be false alarms.  This represents a reduction of over 200 incidents since 2016/17 and the trend appears to be continuing to fall. However, false alarms still accounted for 45% of all incidents attended.[17]

3.2.6 People killed or injured in fires

In comparison to national levels, Suffolk continues to have a relatively low annual fire death rate, with an average of four deaths per year over the period 2013/14 to 2017/18.[17]

The annual average number of casualties (from minor injury to life-threatening burns) in fires over the period 2013/14 to 2017/18, was 77.4. SFRS have an ambition to achieve zero fire deaths and reduce the number of casualties to as few as possible. SFRS focus has remained on delivering effective fire prevention and protection advice to make people safer from fire in their homes and when at work, and in providing effective emergency response to fires when they do occur. 

3.3 Other safety risks

Potential risks that exist in Suffolk include incidents at major industrial sites across the County, such as Felixstowe Port or Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station. In addition, there are four Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) sites in Suffolk (in Haverhill, Stowmarket, Risby and Bury St Edmunds).[18] These are industrial sites which hold dangerous substances; an incident involving these substances could potentially harm the public or the environment.

Suffolk is subject to flooding from the sea, rivers, rain and ground water. Coastal, surface water and fluvial flooding are assessed as a medium risk in Suffolk on the Community Risk Register. The National Risk Assessment for East Coast flooding still shows the risk to be very high but after the tidal flooding events of 2007 and 2013, the Suffolk Resilience Forum partners reduced the risk in Suffolk to reflect levels of actual flooding that were experienced.[19]

4 What policies affect staying safe in Suffolk?

The Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner's Police and Crime Plan 2017-2021 sets out the strategic priorities for policing and how local resources will be managed to deliver the best possible policing service to communities in Suffolk.[20]

The Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service Statement of Assurance is a mandated annual publication which provides assurance on financial, governance and operational matters.[17] It is produced by the Chief Fire Officer and the Cabinet Member for Suffolk County Council on SFRS.

The Suffolk Resilience Forum is a multi-agency group that provides strategic and operational guidance and support on planning the multi-agency response to a major incident.[21] A number of different agencies and organisations come together to create the Suffolk Resilience Forum, which has the common aim of ensuring that Suffolk is prepared for emergencies.

5 Further information

Statistics about police-recorded crime data, and specifically domestic abuse, are published by the Office for National Statistics:

Information, advice and support from Suffolk Constabulary can be found on their website www.suffolk.police.uk

Information, advice and support from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service can be found on their website www.suffolk.gov.uk/suffolk-fire-and-rescue-service

Summary of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service performance at a glance: www.suffolk.gov.uk/assets/fire-rescue-and-emergencies/about-suffolk-fire-and-rescue-service/SFRS-Summary-of-Performance-October-2018.pdf

The Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service Statement of Assurance is a mandated annual publication which provides assurance on financial, governance and operational matters: www.suffolk.gov.uk/suffolk-fire-and-rescue-service/about-suffolk-fire-and-rescue-service/suffolk-fire-and-rescue-service-statement-of-assurance

Detailed information on incidents attended by fire and rescue services are published by the Home Office: www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fire-statistics-data-tables

6 References

[1]         Office for National Statistics, “Crime in England and Wales,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/yearendingjune2018

[2]         R. F. Hanson, G. K. Sawyer, A. M. Begle, and G. S. Hubel, “The impact of crime victimization on quality of life,” J. Trauma. Stress, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 189–197, Apr. 2010.

[3]         J. Jackson and M. Stafford, “Public Health and Fear of Crime: A Prospective Cohort Study,” Br. J. Criminol., vol. 49, no. 6, pp. 832–847, Nov. 2009.

[4]         Womens Aid, “The nature and impact of domestic abuse.” [Online]. Available: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/what-is-domestic-abuse/the-nature-and-impact-of-domestic-abuse/

[5]         National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, “Child abuse and neglect in the UK today,” 2011.  [Online]. Available: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/pre-2013/child-abuse-neglect-uk-today/

[6]         N. Stanley, “Children Experiencing Domestic Violence: A Research Review,” 2011.

[7]         C. Goddard and G. Bedi, “Intimate partner violence and child abuse: a child‐centred perspective,” Child Abus. Rev. J. Br. Assoc. Study Prev. Child Abus. Negl., vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 5–20, 2010.

[8]         K. M. Kitzmann, N. K. Gaylord, A. R. Holt, and E. D. Kenny, “Child witnesses to domestic violence: a meta-analytic review.,” J. Consult. Clin. Psychol., vol. 71, no. 2, p. 339, 2003.

[9]         D. A. Wolfe, C. V Crooks, V. Lee, A. McIntyre-Smith, and P. G. Jaffe, “The effects of children’s exposure to domestic violence: A meta-analysis and critique,” Clin. Child Fam. Psychol. Rev., vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 171–187, 2003.

[10]       S. E. Evans, C. Davies, and D. DiLillo, “Exposure to domestic violence: A meta-analysis of child and adolescent outcomes,” Aggress. Violent Behav., vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 131–140, 2008.

[11]       National Crime Agency, “County Lines Violence, Exploitation & Drug Supply: 2017 National Briefing Report,” 2017. [Online]. Available: https://nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/who-we-are/publications/234-county-lines-violen-ce-exploitation-drug-supply-2017/file

[12]       UK Home Office, “Ending gang violence and exploitation,” 2016. [Online]. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ending-gang-violence-and-exploitation

[13]       J. Laugharne, G. Van de Watt, and A. Janca, “After the fire: the mental health consequences of fire disasters,” Curr. Opin. Psychiatry, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 72–77, 2011.

[14]       Office for National Statistics, “Recorded crime data by Community Safety Partnership area,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/recordedcrimedatabycommunitysafetypartnershiparea

[15]       Office for National Statistics, “Rural crime statistics,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/rural-crime

[16]       Office for National Statistics, “Domestic abuse in England and Wales - Data Tool,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/domesticabuseinenglandandwalesdatatool

[17]       Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, “Statement of Assurance 2017/18,” 2018. www.suffolk.gov.uk/suffolk-fire-and-rescue-service/about-suffolk-fire-and-rescue-service/suffolk-fire-and-rescue-service-statement-of-assurance

[18]       Suffolk Resilience, “Advice for people living close to an industrial site.” [Online]. Available: https://www.suffolkresilience.com/risk-advice/advice-for-people-living-close-to-an-industrial-site

[19]       Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, “Suffolk Strategic Assessment of Risk 2018-2021,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/assets/fire-rescue-and-emergencies/about-suffolk-fire-and-rescue-service/Fire-Strategic-Assessment-of-Risk.pdf

[20]       Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, “Police and Crime Plan Performance,” 2018. [Online]. Available: http://suffolk-pcc.gov.uk/key-info/holding-to-account/monitoring-performance/police-and-crime-plan-performance

[21]       Suffolk Resilience, “What is the Suffolk Resilience Forum?” [Online]. Available: https://www.suffolkresilience.com/about