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Concern at 'spike' in North Down crime figures

There has been a "significant spike" in numerous forms of crime in North Down during April to August 2013 compared to the same period last year.

In total there were 251 more recorded crimes in North Down between April and August this year, according to new PSNI figures.

In all there has been a 20.7% increase in crime across North Down, compared to a 15.4% increase in the Ards policing area, and a 4.3% increase across Northern Ireland.

There has been an 9.5% increase in violent crimes "against the person". There were 412 between April and August 2012 compared to 451 this year.

There was a 9.1% drop in violent crimes causing injury – including murder/homicide – but a 33.1% increase in violent crimes that ended without injury.

In Ards there was a 22.4% drop, with 398 violent crimes in 2012 and 309 in 2013. Twelve more sexual offences occurred in North Down – 25 in 2012 versus 37 in 2013. In Ards the figures showed four more sexual offences this year – 34 compared to 30.

There were two robberies recorded in North Down in 2012, and one recorded this year. Ards showed five more robberies this year – nine compared to four.

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Thefts in North Down shot up by 43.8% in 2013 with 525 recorded offences compared to 365 in 2012.Ards showed a minute drop in thefts from 393 to 378.

North Down's domestic burglaries saw an increase from 80 to 111 – a 38.8% increase.

In Ards there were 30 fewer burglaries this year.

Thefts against people dropped from six to one, in North Down. There was a significant increase in vehicle theft (97 compared to 33 in 2012) but one more bike was stolen in North Down this year compared to last – 16 versus 15.

In Ards there were three thefts from people (the same on last year) and 10 more vehicle thefts (71) compared to last year.

There was a 37.4% rise in recorded shoplifting offences (38.5% in Ards) and a 25% increase in all other theft offences (11.7 drop in Ards). Criminal damage increased by 8.1% in North Down and dropped by 21.8% in Ards.

There was a 44.2% drop in drug offences in North Down and in Ards the figures remained almost static with a drop of one in both drug trafficking and possession numbers.

There were 19 public order offences in Ards this year, compared to 11 last year. In North Down there were 27 compared to 18.

Chair of the North Down Policing and Community Safety Partnership, DUP Councillor Alan Chambers said that though there was cause for concern there had been numerous initiatives in North Down that had reduced certain crimes.

He mentioned a drop in burglaries due to police work in Holywood and the multi-agency initiative to stop anti-social behaviour and alcohol consumption in Crawfordsburn Country Park.

"More generally the figures do cause some concern but we will be taking initiatives to reduce instances of crime."

He said he wasn't certain either way that more people had been reporting crime, but that people continued to need to do so.

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