Belfast Telegraph

14% of people fall victim to crime

Northern Ireland is still much safer than England and Wales, a crime survey revealed.

Around 14% of people are likely to fall victim to crime, compared to more than a fifth of those in England and Wales.

But with the weakened hold of paramilitaries and greater willingness of people to report incidents to police, more cases may be coming to light which were previously hidden, an expert said.

University of Ulster lecturer in criminology Dr John Topping said: "People have been so concerned with the bigger conflict that normal crime has not been on the agenda. Now normal crime issues are coming to the fore. It does not necessarily mean there is more crime, it means people are more prepared to go to the police."

He said there was little evidence that the crime gap with England and Wales was closing significantly and levels were among their lowest for 12 years.

The Northern Ireland crime survey bulletin for 2009/10 was published on Friday by the Department of Justice.

It said the risk of becoming a victim of crime in Northern Ireland was 14%, compared to 21% in England and Wales. The gap has narrowed slightly since the previous year when Northern Ireland was at 13% and England and Wales 23%.

In areas such as west Belfast, many people were unwilling to report crime because they did not trust the police or thought they would not resolve their complaints.

The bulletin said an estimated 189,000 incidents of crime happened during 2009/10, up 7% on the previous year. Burglary was most likely to be reported, reflecting the seriousness of the incidents and the likelihood of insurance claims.

The most common reason for not reporting a crime was that victims felt it was too trivial, they had suffered no loss or they thought police could not or would not do anything.

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