Thursday, May 1, 2014
Police move to reassure residents after town council calls for an explanation to a big rise in recorded incidents
Police have moved quickly to quash fears that Axminster has experienced an upsurge in serious crime.
The Herald reported last week how town councillors were alarmed at a rise in reported incidents in March.
The figures, read out by Mayor Jeremy Walden, included abduction, nine cases of criminal damage, one witness intimidation allegation, four complaints of harassment and the arson attack at The Minster Church which caused some £100,000 damage
As a result members agreed to call for a senior police officer to attend the next meeting to explain the apparent increase in crime.
But in a statement to the Herald Axminster and Seaton Neighbourhood Team Leader, Acting Sgt Matt Sinker, has moved to allay fears.
He says: “As the local area supervisor I feel it is important to reassure the council and the public in general that there is no cause for alarm with regard to the crime figures given at Axminster Town Council’s recent meeting.
“Residents and police are working hard together to deal with the things that matter locally, and with an increase in community involvement there often comes an increase in crime reporting. It is a cliché to say, but we can’t deal with what we don’t know about and I welcome people sharing their concerns.
“Recent crime increases have largely been attributable to multiple offences caused by just a handful of individuals, and a willingness for the public to report incidents regarding these people.
“We have worked hard to increase the numbers of people who are part of the community messaging scheme to keep residents informed of local matters. Those who commit crime and cause others distress can expect to be dealt with robustly, and we are actively targeting the most problematic offenders to create long-term solutions to resolve the problems they cause.
“Recent cuts to policing have been widely reported and they are a reality in the Axe Valley as much as anywhere else. Unfortunately one of the effects of the cuts is that there are less neighbourhood police officers than in recent years, and as such work must be prioritised more carefully than ever before.
“I remain keen for police to attend public meetings where possible, but where this is not the case I am confident that communities know their police are actively tackling local issues.
“Forthcoming changes to the local policing model, due to be implemented within the next few months, will see the return of five patrol officers to be based at Axminster, and a further five at Seaton, which will enable us to better respond to incidents and gather more local intelligence to continue to deal with the most important issues in the area.
“In the Axminster policing area as a whole, crime has, in fact, fallen from 49 recordable offences in March 2013, to 41 in the same month this year. The local neighbourhood team continues to identify and tackle these problems, and regular targeted crime awareness events have been, and will continue to be, held at suitable venues. Dates will be advertised in the local press and we welcome anyone to come along to see for themselves what their local police are doing in their area, and to discuss how to become part of the Community Messaging Scheme.”