Crime figures fall to 15-year low
Overall crime figures across Northern Ireland are at a 15-year low, it has been revealed.
Crime across Northern Ireland has dropped by 2.9%, falling by 3,000 to 100,389 offences in 2012/13, according to annual crime statistics released by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Dr Graeme Ellison, a criminologist from Queen's University Belfast, said 3,000 fewer crimes did not represent a huge drop.
"It is the result of the fiscal crisis, people are not using public spaces and not going out," he said. "Financial austerity can actually reduce crime because it means you are at home more."
He said most crimes like burglary were opportunistic, with people searching for homes which looked unoccupied or targeting cars parked down dark alleyways.
He also claimed people may not be changing their cars as often, with old vehicles presenting a less attractive prize, while he said less alcohol may be consumed, which also contributes to crime.
According to the PSNI, violent offences against the person were down by 0.7%, robberies were down 17%, burglaries were down 9.4%, vehicle offences were down 11.3%, criminal damage offences decreased 8.1% and other miscellaneous offences fell 5.6%.
Sexual offences increased by 6.1%, "other theft" offences rose by 0.2%, fraud and forgery rose by 15.2% and drug offences rose by 15.8%.
Chief Constable Matt Baggott said: "I am very pleased that reported crime has now fallen to a 15-year low. Every day, police officers and police staff work tirelessly across Northern Ireland, to keep people safe and this shows that their courage, commitment and determination is making a real difference.
"This encouraging news should be seen alongside ever-increasing levels of confidence in police and very positive victim satisfaction results. Taken together they show that policing is contributing fully to create a safer and positive future."