Recently, I went out with the police Kestrel team for an evening patrol and saw for myself that they are making a difference to the town centre.

We started out at the Princes Street Police Station, which makes a great base for operating in the town centre. The Kestrels patrol as a group, which gives them a presence, though single officers or pairs do pop off to look up the side streets. They are always talking to people. Sometimes, it’s a “how’s it going” and sometimes it is to speak to people that are known to them.

First call comes in from an amusement arcade – person who had been banned by the arcade had been in and was causing trouble. The description was “drinking Stella with an Irish accent”. The person was nowhere to be seen but five minutes later, he popped out of a close and was able to help police with their enquiries.

At Sainsburys, a security guard had a bodycam photo of someone causing trouble.  The Police officers all had a good look before we moved on.

At Arras Square youths playing a beatbox very loudly were spoken to, and the noise level reduced.  The team then chased a group of about 15 youths out of the entrance of Cosy Café and they dispersed into the night.

I was keen to visit the area around McDonalds, which was previously a hotspot for youths hanging around, both inside and outside.  It is now very quiet. A woman walked past swearing loudly into her mobile phone and was surprised when an officer asked her to pipe down!

Generally, they confiscated any open cans of beer and warned people with unopened cans that there was to be no drinking in the streets. They tackled a drinking group at Majors Corner which I’ve seen there before.  This time their drinks were taken away and poured out in front of the owners, including a bottle of brandy.

A final look up a dark alleyway to talk to a couple of people they knew and then I had an escort of five police officers to my evening meeting!  The Kestrels went back on patrol. They are an effective force in tackling the crime and anti-social behaviour in the town centre.  It would be good to have more of them.

Statistically, crime in the town centre is down 21%, with most of the crimes being linked to alcohol on weekends.  I’m sure that increased policing is playing a large part in improving crime figures.  Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) successfully applied for a government grant for three PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) and this gives a visible police presence during the daytime.

IBC has also been successful with another grant application, this time for Safer Streets which will provide another 28 CCTV cameras in town.  Do cameras stop crime? Well, they do enable criminals to be identified, tracked and arrested.  They do provide valuable evidence in court to help prove guilt (or innocence).  If criminals can be brought to book, then that will help reduce crime. Regular Star readers will have seen the CCTV images that were used to build up a picture of the movements of the killers in the recent Quigley case. This stabbing was part of a deep-rooted gang rivalry and it is reassuring that the killers have been sent down for a long time.

It was also good to see Suffolk Police making 40 drug related arrests last week. Hopefully these will lead to more criminals in the Star pages for “Jailed in Suffolk: the criminals put behind bars”.

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