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MP wades into row over local policing and 'Bungay Mafia'

A Suffolk MP has challenged the county’s chief constable over policing priorities after residents revealed they have given up on reporting crimes.

Peter Aldous, the Conservative MP for Waveney, stepped in after residents in the market town of Bungay complained over the lack of policing.

Concerns have been triggered by a rise in anti-social behaviour that started in December last year and has now escalated to targeting local school children. Some residents had revealed that they were too scared to report incidents for fear of reprisals by a group dubbed the Bungay Mafia.

Posts on social media by local people, now deleted, had discussed forming vigilante groups to patrol neighbourhoods.

Suffolk’s Chief Constable, Stephen Jupp, was challenged by the MP over why three promised officers had been slow to materialise and that their lack of local knowledge had slowed the identification of suspects.

Mr Aldous also questioned why Special Constables who live there had not been used and no requests made for CCTV footage.

The problems of people failing to report crimes was recently highlighted by HM Inspectorate as part of the PEEL assessments. Chief Inspector Matt Parr said the public were now fully aware that forces did not investigate minor offences and had given up.

Mr Aldous said: “People are no longer reporting crime incidents as there is a general perception that nothing will be done if they do so. If they do there is a reluctance to provide witness statements as there is a concern that the police response will be ineffective and there is a fear of reprisal against them.”

He added: “There is a need to rebuild confidence and trust in the force by communicating with individuals.”

Suffolk’s Temporary Assistant Chief Constable David Cutler, who has responsibility for neighbourhood response teams will meet community leaders next week.

The force has revealed arrests have been made but like every other force in the country, it is struggling to meet rising demands including rural crime across an area covering more than 1,400 square miles. It has seen a 20% reduction in workforce since 2010 and a 7% increase in population.

Despite this, it was rated good by HM Inspectorate for tackling anti-social behaviour.

In a statement Inspector Liz Casey of Suffolk Constabulary said: “We became aware of the concerns from local residents during late December 2019 and, as a result, I met with the town council to gather more information.

“Our SNT officers have significantly increased patrols, both visible and plain clothes, in the area. We have engaged with the local community to gather further information, intelligence regarding ASB, and are continuing to identify those individuals at the heart of the problem. However, we shall not become complacent and will continue, together with our partners and partner agencies, to target those who choose to engage in criminality and ASB.” 

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