Police vow to tackle rise in serious violence linked to Norwich’s night time economy and Prince of Wales Road

Police chiefs have vowed to work with pub and club bosses and other agencies to try and tackle a rise in serious violence offences in Norwich which is linked to the night-time economy.

Figures released by Norfolk police show there has been a 24pc increase in serious violent offences (38 offences) from April to December 2011 compared to the same period in 2010, which equates to five offences per week compared to four per week the previous year.

A third of the offences are linked to the night-time economy, with 80pc happening on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, and almost a quarter occurring in Norwich.

In Norwich, 75pc of the serious violence offences (18 crimes) happened between 9pm and 6am.

Kevin Wilkins, assistant chief constable of Norfolk Constabulary, pictured, said the night-time economy remained an 'area of concern' for police, who are looking at ways of combating the problem.

He said: 'We're looking very closely with district councils, county councils and the night-time economy going forward.

'There has been an increase in violence. Violence is the one thing that has stood out for us and is an area that we really want to tackle. The night-time economy is an area of concern. The number of offences we've experienced this year have taken us back a couple of years.

Most Read

'It's an area we really want to focus on.'

Mr Wilkins, who was speaking at a meeting of Norfolk Police Authority's performance and engagement committee held at Wymondham yesterday, said he hoped new government legislation could help address some of the problems.

As previously reported, police have backed moves by the government to impose a levy on clubs to cover the cost of policing drink-related disorder in areas like Prince of Wales Road.

The late night levy, which is currently being consulted on, is part of a proposed overhaul of the Licensing Act aimed at giving councils and the police much stronger powers to remove licences from, or refuse to grant licences to, any premises that are causing problems.

The consultation also includes the extension of Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs), which could see a restriction on the sale of alcohol from midnight to 6am at certain premises. Mr Wilkins said: 'Norwich is a big attraction for people coming in and we want to balance the economic needs and business needs of Norwich but also making sure it remains a safe place.'

But in addition to the clubs, pubs, police and council, Mr Wilkins also said the health service had a part to play in terms of the long-term debate about the night-time economy and its effect on people's lives, like alcohol-related health problems.

Yesterday's meeting also heard how there had been a 5pc reduction in priority crime – those which cause most harm to the community like burglary, robbery, and theft of and from motor vehicles.

Mr Wilkins said: 'We were aiming for a reduction of 1.5pc but have achieved 5pc which is outstanding. An overall reduction of 5pc in terms of the crimes that mean most and will cause most risk and harm is outstanding.'

The 26pc reduction in incidents of anti-social behaviour reported to Norfolk police between April and December last year compared to the same period the previous year was also described by Mr Wilkins as 'outstanding'.

Home Office consultation about the levy runs until April 10.

Click here to go to the Home Office consultation – http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/ publications/about-us/consultations/ late-night-drinking/

Have you got a crime story for the Evening News? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk