Suffolk

Ipswich gang violence is 'everyone's business', say police

Gang silhouette Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gangs were said to be a problem in the Jubilee Park and Nacton Road areas of Ipswich

A rise of gang and drug-related violence in Ipswich is "everyone's business" and needs community groups to work together, a police chief said.

A University of Suffolk report found children as young as 12 had been caught up in drug-related offences in the town.

It focused on increased crime levels in the Jubilee Park and Nacton Road areas.

Rachel Kearton, Suffolk's Assistant Chief Constable, said the problems were "not just a police issue".

Image caption Public meeting to discuss University of Suffolk's report into local drug gangs

At a community meeting held at Murrayside Learning Centre, there was a call for more visible policing from people who said youngsters could be seen dealing drugs on the streets.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said when out with officers on observation, he had seen children as young as 14 with "a packet of class A drugs worth £300 or £400".

Image copyright Geograph/Adrian Cable
Image caption High levels of crime, youth gang activity and drug dealing were reported in the Nacton Road area of Ipswich

Gangs known by names including "J-Block" and "Q-Block" worked to "establish local dealing networks" in the area, the report published on Monday said.

"Violence, threats and coercion were used routinely by these groups to exert control over vulnerable children and young people," the report said.

ACC Kearton, insisted there was a "sufficient number of police" to deal with the area and "extra resources" were available.

"The issue in Ipswich, around drugs crime, is not just a police issue, it is a partnership issue, and this is everyone's business," she said.

Bill Knowles, a Labour Ipswich Borough councillor, said: "It is a very serious matter for the area and we do need collective action to get a grip of this, to break up this appalling gang culture in parts of the town.

Image caption Meetings are being planned in the Jubilee Park area to discuss the problems

"We now need to work together with the other agencies."

The report found that Suffolk Police had made 2,500 arrests over the past two and years in connection with drug-related crime.

It added that "enforcement alone" could not solve the problem alone and all key agencies needed to work together and have "clarity" where accountability lies.

Further public meetings are being held on 13, 14, 19 and 21 September.

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