Is this Norfolk market town really experiencing a spike in crime?

Swaffham town centre. Picture: Ian Burt

Swaffham town centre. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Attempted car break-ins and reports of suspicious activity have left residents in a Norfolk market town feeling concerned that they are facing a growing crime problem.

The concerns within Swaffham are set to be discussed in an upcoming town council meeting and councillors have stated that it is important they assess whether there is an actual increase in crime or a 'change in public perception'.

Many of the fears were voiced on social media and that prompted Breckland councillor Ian Sherwood and county councillor Ed Colman to investigate the issue.

Mr Colman said he has discussed it with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk and is keen to ensure residents feel safe.

'I am concerned to see local residents reporting an increase in crime on social media but I must stress that social media is not an effective way to report crime,' he said.

'It is important that crimes are reported correctly to ensure we are able to determine if there is a genuine increase or just a change in public perception.'

Police statistics do not reflect the concerns and show there has been no major increase in the last 12 months. In February there was 85 reports, down from 87 one year earlier.

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The crime rate is also lower than most nearby towns, including Dereham which had 163 reports in February, and Thetford which had 270.

Breckland inspector Jon Papworth said the police have not seen a noticeable spike.

'Statistically there is no big spike,' he said. 'In March after the snow we did have a spate of people trying car doors and looking for insecure vehicles and we have also had a couple of burglaries reported to us but there is no major increase.

'If people feel there are issues then they need to make us aware. I will be looking to make sure there is a police team out on the streets and people feel safe.'

Councillor Ian Sherwood added that while he has not seen any data that reflects it, he is aware of a perceived increase in crime highlighted on social media.

'I along with my Breckland Council colleagues and Norfolk County Council Councillor Ed Colman will work together to ensure residents concerns are raised,' he said.

The Town Council meeting will take place on April 11 at the Town Hall on London Street.