BRIDGWATER'S local MP has warned that people may soon become too scared to visit the town centre unless crime levels can be reduced.

It comes in response to an article published by the Mercury on Monday, January 1, which revealed nearly 1,000 incidents of violence and sexual offences were reported to Avon and Somerset Police in the town centre from November 2022 to October 2023.

Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said he was ‘utterly shocked’ by the findings, which also revealed 397 incidents of anti social behaviour in the town centre were reported over the same period.

There were also 237 public order reports, 183 shoplifting reports, and a further 168 for criminal damage and arson.

Now, Mr Liddell-Grainger has called for all-out action to crack down on the crime rate which he believes is in danger of wrecking the town’s reputation.

He intends to raise the issue as a matter of urgency when he meets Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford next week.

“What interests me even more is how many people were arrested and put before the courts as a result of this appalling level of criminal activity, and I expect the answer will be ‘not enough’," he said.

“The figures speak for themselves - and they speak very loudly of a town where crime is on the increase and the streets are becoming less and less safe,” he continued.

“Two things concern me: firstly, these figures do not present an accurate representation of the kind of people who live in Bridgwater, the great majority of whom are law-abiding and take a great pride in their town.

“Secondly, I am extremely worried about the effect these statistics are going to have on Bridgwater’s economy, because unless something is done soon to bring down the crime rate, people are going to take the view that it is too dangerous a place to be walking the streets, even for shopping in broad daylight.

“I have no idea whether the levels of crime are linked in any way to a reduced police presence in the town centre, but experience elsewhere has shown that having police officers regularly patrolling town centres can act as a deterrent to would-be offenders.

“In any event doing nothing about this is not an option and I shall be making that point very forcefully when I meet the commissioner next week."