Challenges for police in West Norfolk made vividly clear as figures show knife possession increase
"Crime is changing to become more sophisticated." These were the words of Norfolk's chief constable during a public meeting at Lynn Town Hall this week.
Simon Bailey was on hand to answer questions from members of the public, with police and crime commissioner Lorne Green hosting the event yesterday evening.
"During times of austerity people are driven to commit crimes, but we are doing our best to prevent it," Mr Bailey said.
"Crime is changing to become more sophisticated, we are doing our best to stop it and the crime figures here tonight shows we are being effective."
The meeting heard anti-social behaviour has decreased by 13 per cent in the area from the previous year. Hate crime has also gone down by 15 per cent as have burglaries by 17 per cent.
However, there has been a 17 per cent increase in domestic offences and 86 police officers were assaulted during 2018/19, an increase of nine per cent from the previous year.
Knife possession has also increased by 35 per cent.
"People carry knives in West Norfolk as they do in London I am afraid," Inspector Rob Button said while also emphasising the national trend is going up.
There have also been 649 reports of missing people in the last three months, 89 of which were reported more than once during this period.
During the meeting, a concerned resident also queried the lack of support services in West Norfolk for child victims of domestic abuse.
She highlighted the need to travel as far as Norwich or Great Yarmouth, something Mr Bailey said was due to a lack of resources he "cannot fix."
"We are having to come to terms with more and more people coming forward in an unprecedented way," Mr Bailey said.
"This is highlighting a massive gap in services for domestic abuse."
Issues of speeding on Vancouver Avenue was also raised.
Superintendent Dave Buckley, local policing commander for Lynn, said MP Sir Henry Bellingham has been supportive in this but admitted "we need to do more."
"Speedwatch is a wonderful thing but it sounds like the county council need to do more," Mr Green said.
On the subject of drug supply, Mr Bailey said: "While there may be one or two people who make significant amounts of money, look at the amount of arrests.
"I am really happy with our response to the County Lines threat; there is always going to be people taking the risk to supply it."
The meeting finished with a word on anti-social groups creating nuisance at Lynn's bus station as well as groups cycling on pavements and deliberately disrupting traffic.
Supt Buckley said: "Lynn has the most amazing CCTV and the bus station is really well covered so calls can go straight through to police when they are seen coming.
"Upwards of 40 children have been dealt with at the bus station and overall we found some of them very difficult to control.
"We rely on support from homes, but what we do enjoy is support from schools.
"We have been dealing with 14 to 15-year-olds at 2am where noone is concerned for them. These are children being pushed out into the public arena who are a real challenge for us."
Mr Bailey said the police has invested in an amateur dramatics team who go into schools to highlight the risks of drugs.
"We have raised the profile to the best of our abilities. We are going into schools to try and raise awareness, and build resilience in young people as that is the best form of defence," he said.
There are 14 schools who have already received this support he added.