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Robbery puts focus on police resources

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 22/07/2016

Chief Constable George Hamilton
Chief Constable George Hamilton

All of us like to think that we are safe in our own home. That is the place where we feel most comfortable and relaxed, so when that sanctuary is invaded the shock is all the greater.

One can only imagine the horror felt by the two couples who found themselves the targets for armed robbers in the Carryduff area on Wednesday evening. Two of the victims, one an 18-year-old girl, called at the house while the owners were being threatened by five masked men and were also assaulted.

Fortunately the four were not seriously hurt during the robbery, but the mental trauma of the incident will probably last longer than the physical injuries.

Sadly, violent robberies in domestic properties are not uncommon. Indeed, there was a period when the main targets for such incidents were elderly people, thought to be the most likely age bracket to keep significant sums of money in their homes.

The total number of crimes recorded in Northern Ireland in the 12 months to last February showed a small increase, but the trend involving violence has remained fairly flat over the last two years.

However, it is the prime duty of the State - and its agencies, primarily the police - to keep its citizens safe from those who would wish to cause them harm. Of course the police cannot be everywhere, and crime, like taxes, will always be with us.

Yet the PSNI deserves adequate resources to enable it to prevent crime where possible and apprehend those who commit it.

While we recognise that the force has to constantly look over its shoulder at the past in a bid to clear up legacy crimes and give some closure to those bereaved or injured during the Troubles, its priority must be to police the present.

The Chief Constable has made it clear repeatedly that budget cuts are hampering the force's ability to combat crime and that the size of the force has had to be reduced.

Policing is such a fundamental duty of the State that its efficiency cannot be compromised through underinvestment in manpower and resources. It, like every other public service, must demonstrate that it uses its resources well, but it is also right to highlight the pinch points due to lack of funding.

The public also has its part to play in ensuring that police are given every scrap of information which can lead to the apprehension of criminals and leave us all feeling safer.

Belfast Telegraph

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