North Belfast at top of crime pollbob malcolm
DAYS after the first and deputy first ministers, Police Chief Constable Matt Baggot and the Policing Board met to address the blight of rioting associated with the parades issue, the PSNI have released their security situation crime statistics which show north Belfast is close to top of the list when it comes to gun finds, shootings and bombing incidents in Northern Ireland.
The figures showed that in July 2012 there were more shooting incidents in Northern Ireland than at any time since January 2010 - when there were 14 incidents across the province.
There were 28 shooting incidents and 18 bombing incidents in Northern Ireland between April 1 and July 31, 2012. The number of bombings has remained steady at six in July 2012, the same number for the previous month.
North Belfast is joint top of the list in relation to firearms found, with four weapons being found there, the same number as in the Foyle area.
Three were found in the Ards, Omagh and Lisburn areas.
There was one casualty relating to shooting incidents in north Belfast since April 2012. Just over a tenth of a kilogram of explosives were found in north Belfast in the same period.
North Belfast has seen five seperate incidents of shootings since April and there have been two bombing incidents involving four bomb devices.
North Belfast, so far this year, has the joint second highest amount of shooting incidents, tied in second place with the Foyle area and only second due to six incidents in the west of the city. There were no deaths related to the security situation in Northern Ireland between April 1 and July 31, 2012. There was one death in the same period during the previous year.
DUP Member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, David McIlveen MLA, was "pleased the police are driving the overall numbers of so-called punishment beatings down".
Police Chief Constable Matt Baggot said the latest Northern Ireland Crime survey, published in August, has shown a marked and statistically significant increase in confidence.
"Confidence in Police and Accountability arrangements has increased to 80.6% and confidence in local policing has increased by 5% to 66%.
He added: "Despite being in the grip of incredibly difficult economic times crime continues to fall. Overall this financial year there have been 3397 fewer crimes than last year.
"This includes 970 fewer burglaries, 750 fewer violent crimes with injury and 100 fewer robberies. Drug seizures have increased by 195."
Oldpark DUP Councillor Gareth McKee, who chairs the North Belfast District Policing and Community Safety Partnership, said the statistics are evidence of the continuing threat posed by a small number of criminal and dissident republican gangs in North Belfast who "constantly seek to undermine the rule of law".
"They have very little support but seek to intimidate people into silence through these abhorrent acts of violence," he said. "These organised crimes are only a small part of the issues which we seek to address," he said, urging anyone with information on the gangs to inform the police.