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Crime on rise again in Northern Ireland after falling steeply following coronavirus lockdown rules

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Justice minister Naomi Long (NI Assembly/PA)

Justice minister Naomi Long (NI Assembly/PA)

Justice minister Naomi Long (NI Assembly/PA)

Crime is beginning to creep up after dramatic drops across most categories following the initial lockdown, according to the latest figures.

But the numbers are still much lower over the last two months compared to the same period last year and the normal weekly average.

"As each week passes, there is a narrowing of the gap between the lower levels of overall crime recorded during lockdown and during the same time period in 2019," a PSNI weekly report explained.

Overall, crime has fallen by 27% since the beginning of the lockdown in March, with violence against the person dropping by 15%.

Violence with injury has fallen by 30%, sexual offences by more than a third and both robberies and thefts by nearly 50%.

However, there were seven homicides - an increase of three over the same period last year.

In total, the number of recorded crimes dropped from 16,585 to 12,057 during the two-month period in question.

But the number of recorded crimes weekly, which dropped to a low of 1,270 at the start of the lockdown, rose to 1,629 in the seven days to May 17 - still below the average of more than 2,000 pre-pandemic.

Stormont Justice Minister Naomi Long said: "Any continued narrowing is likely to reflect society's return to an environment where restrictions are eased and potential perpetrators have the freedom to move about more easily."

Belfast Telegraph