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'Get more police back on streets'

Mayor concerned by city centre robbery

Belfast's Lord Mayor today said he fears Belfast city centre could be hit by more crime unless police foot patrols in the area are stepped up urgently.

Councillor Jim Rodgers was speaking after one of the city's top jewellers was targeted by armed robbers yesterday.

The daylight heist took place at Lunn's in Queen's Arcade at around 4.30pm.

Two masked men, one carrying a firearm, stormed into the premises threatening staff and demanding stock.

One male member of staff was then hit on the head with the firearm, while the remaining staff members were accosted by the robbers.

The two men stole a quantity of jewellery before fleeing the scene.

A 30-year-old man was arrested in west Belfast this morning in connection with the incident.

Mr Rodgers said concerns had been raised to him by city centre business owners and members of the public about a "noticeable reduction" in police officers in the area.

"I know the police budget has been slashed and there has been a reduction in overtime hours for officers," he said.

"However, we need more visible policing. It is so important because people feel secure and comfortable."

Mr Rodgers said he would be raising the concerns with police today.

"Following yesterday's incident police came from everywhere, in Land Rovers and cars, some in uniform, some not," he said.

"But it is the foot patrols that we really need.

"Earlier this week I was walking through Belfast with the President of Burundi and outside of the police officers accompanying us there were no others.

"I'm not saying we should flood the city centre, but we need a presence which has been absent for several weeks.

"I have no doubt that criminals are planning another attack in the centre of Belfast. With such small numbers [of police] this will certainly happen."

A spokesman for the PSNI this morning said: "Police in south Belfast are firmly committed to reducing crime, bringing more people before the court, and making the most effective use of the resources we have.

"Police were able to respond to the robbery in the city centre within two minutes.

"Police in south Belfast work closely with Belfast City Centre Management, the business community and Belfast City Council and a range of other partners to make Belfast City Centre a safe place during the day and night."

Following yesterday's raid the robbers abandoned a red Volvo car where a third man had been waiting.

It is believed the robbers took off in the College Court direction. A short time later police recovered the abandoned vehicle.

Army technical officers examined a number of items at the scene before carrying out a controlled explosion on the car.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph