Up to 15 people to blame for violent crime rate in Huntingdon

UP to 15 individuals are to blame for Huntingdon having the highest rate of alcohol-related violence in the district, according to the town’s police inspector.

Figures presented on Tuesday to Huntingdonshire District Council’s overview and scrutiny panel showed levels of violent crime per pub in Huntingdon were twice that of anywhere else in the district.

In 2010-11, there were an average of 14.4 violent offences per pub in Huntingdon, compared to 6.5 in St Neots (east), 5.6 in Ramsey and 5.5 in St Ives, according to a study by Huntingdonshire Community Safety Partnership.

Most of the offences in Huntingdon occurred on Friday nights.

Huntingdon police sector inspector Ian Ford said the higher crime rate could be due to troublemakers moving into Huntingdon from St Ives and St Neots, which both have active crime prevention schemes.

He said most of the trouble was in a handful of pubs. “I think there is a group of 10 to 15 people who are to blame, and once they are managed we will see a drop in issues. It is difficult to say why Huntingdon is worse, whether it is specifically because there is a different make-up of visitors that come to Huntingdon in the evening.

“I know previously St Ives had problems. About a year ago, they introduced something similar [to pubwatch] and all the licensed premises have tightened up, but it has moved the problem out.

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“It is cyclical. People will migrate to the ‘in’ pub. Once that pub has started enforcing things a bit more, they tend to migrate to the next opportunity.”

But the inspector said he hopes Huntingdon’s fledging pubwatch scheme, coupled with enhanced police patrols on Friday and Saturday nights, will lead to a drop in violence.

Eleven pubs and clubs in the town have joined pubwatch, which started three months ago, and so far four banning orders have been issued to offenders – two are lifetime bans. Further bans are expected to be passed at a pubwatch meeting today (Wednesday).

Inspector Ford said: “Every weekend we have the Operation Titan patrols which is on a Friday and Saturday night. “We look at the recent history and to which areas of pubs have problems so we can send extra resources into those locations to increase visibility.”

n Insp Ford’s blog can be read on The Hunts Post website ��www.huntspost24.co.uk – go to Hunts Life, Columnists.