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Northern Ireland crime at 20 year low but number of paramilitary shootings victims doubles

By Claire Williamson

The number of victims from paramilitary style shootings in Northern Ireland have doubled in the past year, new PSNI statistics show.

The PSNI published its annual crime statistics on Wednesday. It stated that crime figures were at their lowest level since the series began almost 20 years ago.

Overall in 2016/17 there were 98,076 crimes recorded by the PSNI, a drop of 6.6%, 105,023 crimes, on the previous year and the lowest number recorded since 1998/99.

However despite that the number of sexual offences and paramilitary style attacks have increased.

SEXUAL ASSAULT AT ALL TIME HIGH

The number of recorded sexual offences is at the highest level recorded since 1998/99.

They rose by 4% from 3,037 in 2015/16 to 3,158 in 2016/17.

PARAMILITARY STYLE ATTACKS

There has been a rise in the number of security related deaths and the number of casualties resulting from paramilitary attacks.

There were 61 shootings incidents which is up 36 from the previous year.

In the past year there were 28 casualties resulting from paramilitary style shootings - double the number recorded in the previous year.

Republicans were deemed responsible for 25 of these with Loyalists responsible for the remaining three.

The number of casualties from paramilitary style assaults in 2016/17 is also an increase from the previous year from 58 to 66.

Loyalists were deemed responsible for 56 of these with the remaining ten attributed to Republicans.

Meanwhile there were 23 fewer bombing incidents than the previous year with 29 in 2016/17.

There were five security related deaths during 2016/17 the largest number per year since 2008/9.

And 137 people were arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act in 2016/17, 12 fewer than the 149 arrested in 2015/16.

The number of persons subsequently charged following arrest under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act rose by one from 18 in 2015/16 to 19 in 2016/17.

DOMESTIC ABUSE

Police dealt with just over 30,000 incidents of domestic abuse in the year - the highest recorded level.

There were 29,166 incidents in 2016/17, an increase of 2.7%, 774 incidents.

HATE CRIME

In 2016/17 the PSNI recorded 1,054 racist incidents, 995 sectarian incidents, 278 homophobic incidents, 112 disability incidents, 44 faith/religion incidents and 20 transphobic incidents.

Compared with the previous year there were decreases in all but two of the six hate incident types. Sectarian incidents fell by 357 (-26.4%), racist incidents fell by 167 (13.7%), homophobic incidents fell by 65 (-19.0%) and disability incidents were down by 22 (-16.4%).

Increases occurred in faith/religion incidents, up by five incidents, whilst there was one more transphobic incident recorded than in the previous year.

DRUGS

There were 5,546 drug seizures during 2016/17, a fall of 0.9% on the 5,597 seizures in 2015/16. The latest figure is, however, the second highest recorded since 2006/07. As in previous years, the majority of these incidents related to seizures of Cannabis.

There were 2,702 drug-related arrests in 2016/17, 251 fewer than in 2015/16.

OVERALL CRIME

Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris said: “The PSNI is committed to keeping people safe and we welcome the fact there has been a decrease in the number of crimes recorded.

“These figures show a snapshot of crime types we are dealing with but it is also important to acknowledge that although the statistics show the number of traditional crimes recorded has fallen, demand on policing is increasing and becoming more complex as traditional crime has given way to those less visible, more complex crimes such as public protection offending and cyber-crime.

"Overall 16% of policing demand is linked to crime as around 80% of calls for service relate to public safety and welfare including incidents involving vulnerability, missing people and child protection.”

Deputy Chief Constable Harris added: “Whilst the number of crimes with a domestic motivation fell, the number of incidents with a domestic abuse motivation rose and I would continue to encourage anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse to come forward and report it to police.”

He continued: “I acknowledge the increase in the number of victims as a result of paramilitary style attacks and would reassure local communities that we are continuing to focus on these crimes.

"The PSNI is working hard to bring those responsible for these types of crimes before the courts however we also need the support from the public in providing us with the information we need to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

 

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