Belfast Telegraph

We all have role in fighting crime

Editor's Viewpoint

The rise in crime and the fall in the number of people apprehended for offences is disappointing but must be seen in context. There was an increase in dissident republican bombings and police were also diverted from tackling ordinary crime by the disorder on the streets. These offences were of such a magnitude that police had to prioritise their efforts to combat them.

Yet the Chief Constable Matt Baggott must feel a tinge of regret that after four years of falling crime figures, the trend was upward again last year.

When he began his tenure of office he emphasised that he wished to devote more of the PSNI's resources into community policing, and the latest statistics are not the way he would like to sign off from the job.

But while it is the primary duty of the police to combat crime and arrest those responsible, their task is made more difficult if society is not at peace with itself. Undeniably, Northern Ireland is a more peaceful place today than it was in the recent past, but still, too frequently, tension on the streets is ratcheted up by the inflammatory words of some politicians.

They cannot divest themselves of all blame when a tinderbox situation bursts into flames and they must redouble their efforts to create a truly shared society.

The police, too, must examine their procedures and practices to ensure that they are fighting crime as effectively as possible and that resources are properly deployed.

The pilot scheme of officers wearing cameras is an innovation which could help them particularly when used to investigate allegations of domestic abuse.

It would provide on-the-spot evidence and also ensure that officers performed their duties efficiently. Any measure which could enable terrified victims bring their abusers to justice is to be welcomed.

Combating racial hate crime must also be prioritised. Although the number of incidents are relatively small, they are increasing at an alarming rate, and are a blot on the reputation of this society. The public has an important part to play by providing information which will put the perpetrators behind bars.

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