Belfast Telegraph

Shocking rise in violence against our young women even though crime rate at a 15-year low

BY CLAIRE GRAHAM

One in 14 women aged from 16-24 says she has been the victim of a violent crime, according to a shocking new survey.

The figures were revealed in the Northern Ireland Crime Survey 2012/13 released by the Department of Justice.

This is in spite of the fact that overall crime levels are now at a 15-year low.

The research asked 4,055 adults living in private households throughout Northern Ireland for their experiences of crime.

The research found 16-24-year-old women were the most at risk of violent crime – 6.9% of those who responded said they had been the victim of an attack.

Our young women were even more vulnerable than those in England or Wales (4.9%).

The proportion of women of all age groups who were a victim of a violent crime rose on last year's figures, but the number of men targeted dropped.

Offences defined as violent include common assault, attempted assault, serious wounding including sexual motive and mugging.

There were some improvements, as police recorded overall crime figures at 100,389 offences in 2012/13, which equates to the lowest level of crime recorded by the police since new counting rules were introduced in 1998/99.

Chair of the Police Federation Northern Ireland Terry Spence (below) welcomed the reduction in the crime level.

"More importantly, the detection is warmly welcomed, as it shows the striving efforts of our officers, and that is something to be acknowledged, especially when you consider how volatile the situation is," he said.

"Thousands of officers are being distracted by widespread public disorder over the past year to 18 months across Northern Ireland and, of course, in the upsurge in terrorism – and that threat remains severe. But I think we have to be cautious of these figures.

"There are different methods in recording crime, if for whatever reason someone does not want to report a minor crime."

He added: "The force is getting smaller and contracting in size.

"We had 12,500 full-time officers and that's now down to 6,700.

"The police are now acting like the Fire Service, responding to 999 calls with very little to no community policing."

Minister for Justice David Ford said: "Crime levels are now at a 15-year low and this reaffirms the fact that Northern Ireland is one of the safest places to live in the UK.

"Crime, in all its forms, can be totally devastating for victims and indeed the communities affected.

"However, this downward trend is to be welcomed and my department will continue to work with partners across Government, statutory, voluntary and community sectors, in their fight against crime to protect everyone in Northern Ireland."

* The bulletin refers to fieldwork undertaken during the financial year April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013, involving 4,055 people aged 16 years and over giving complete interviews. This represents an eligible response rate of 68%.

FACTFILE

WHAT THE SURVEY FOUND

* The most common reason for not reporting a crime was 'too trivial/no loss/police would/could not do anything' (71%).

* Households in areas perceived to have a high level of anti-social behaviour were more likely than any other socio-demographic group examined to have been victims of burglary (5.3%); vehicle-related theft (4.6% for vehicle owners), or vandalism (10.2%).

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