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Alarming rise in Southend crime
CRIME is up in Southend – with big increases in burglary, violence and car break-ins.
Plummeting police budgets, poverty, a busy summer and relatively low crime last year have all been blamed for a 6.8 per cent rise in crime since April.
Police have launched high-visibility patrols checking doors are locked in areas hit by break-ins after burglaries rose by 12.5 per cent and vehicle crime shot up by more than a quarter.
Chief Insp Matt Bennett said: “It’s no secret we are facing severe budget cuts and we have got more severe cuts coming.”
Police say the tide is turning and hope to “claw back” some of the lost ground by the end of the year, but Chief Insp Bennett admitted they would not make up the 458 more crimes which have been committed since April than the same period last year.
The district commander for Southend was especially worried by the rise in break-ins – as burglars are usually more active in the autumn and winter.
Officers have launched a campaign of “preventative policing” in a bid to tackle the issue.
High-visibility patrols are carried out within 200 metres of any burglary to ward off thieves, who tend to strike the same area again after a success.
The officers try doors of houses and cars when on patrol to prevent people becoming soft targets.
But Insp Bennett admitted the new measures, favoured by new Chief Constable for Essex Stephen Kavanagh, who was appointed in May, pull officers away from investigating crimes.
The rise comes as crime across the county has fallen by 0.7 per cent, despite a £44million fall in the police budget.
Police will have to cut £8million more next year and a further £10million in 2015-16.
However, crime in Southend has dropped 17 per cent since 2006-07, with reductions every year, apart from 2010-11 and 2011- 12.
Insp Bennett said the comparison with last year’s figures, which were unusually low, made this year seem worse.
Councillor Tony Cox, who is Southend’s representative on the panel that holds police and crime commissioner to account, said: “In times of economic downturn we find those sorts of crimes – thefts from homes and vehicles – occur sadly quite frequently.
“This is coupled with what I find a disturbing rise in violent crime, which seems to be happening on a daily basis. It’s quite worrying.”
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