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Is violence on the rise in Southampton?
TWO murders, the closure of the Itchen Bridge after a man was found with significant injuries, and the discovery of a woman’s body close to rubbish bins – and that is just in the past fortnight in Southampton.
But does this reflect a city turning more readily to violence, or is it a statistical quirk?
Southampton’s top cop believes it is the latter, as official figures show violent crime is down significantly in the past year.
Superintendent James Fulton, district commander for Southampton, argues that none of the incidents were linked and residents need not be alarmed.
He says people have nothing to fear following an “unusual” number of police incidents within the city in the past two weeks.
In fact, he told the Daily Echo that the city is safer than it was 12 months ago, with violent crime down by 25 per cent compared to the previous year. However, he understands how so much police activity within the city in such a short space of time has caused concern.
As previously reported, a murder investigation was launched on June 13 after the death of Belinda Dalby, at Jordon House, in Millbrook Road East.
Days later, on June 19, the Itchen Bridge was closed for several hours as officers investigated the death of Southampton boxer Lee Cutter, who was found in the water suffering from multiple wounds – which officers later concluded were self-inflicted.
Then, on Monday, Jane Helbin’s body was discovered by binmen in Millbrook Road East, and just hours later a murder investigation was launched following the death of John Willdig in Morris Road.
All the incidents saw teams of officers and forensic experts drafted in, with police cordons set up and road closures established as investigations got under way.
Supt Fulton said: “Southampton over the recent two weeks has been hit with a number of significant incidents which have absorbed policing resources. These have caused considerable disruption to communities.
“Undoubtedly this is an unusual number of these types of incidents, but there is no cause for alarm across communities. I can categorically say none of these are linked.
“They are all tragic isolated incidents and in all cases linked to people, if a third party is involved, who are known to the victim.
“Southampton continues to see falls in violent crime. Last year alone the most serious offences of violence saw a 25 per cent reduction, so Southampton continues to become a safer city.”
He added that while road closures and cordons do cause disruption for many, they are vitally important to allow officers to establish what has happened and protect any evidence if any charges are brought as a result of the incident.
“I would like to thank the public for their understanding when roads are closed or scenes put up,” said Supt Fulton.
“These are necessary procedures which have to be done at the initial stages on any investigation into an individual’s death.
“Frequently people would have seen police cordons, with police tape, with officers protecting a scene.
“This is a key part of our investigative and forensic approach to preserve evidence if somebody needs to be brought to justice.
“I appreciate following the last two weeks that it may not feel like that but let me assure you, we continue to work to make Southampton even safer.”
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