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Crime increase in North Down and Ards

Overall crime in North Down has increased during the past nine months, the latest meeting of the DPP has heard.

Held at Redburn Community Centre in Holywood, Chief Inspector Mark McEwan outlined PSNI performance figures for the period April-December 2009.

Chief Inspector McEwan revealed that overall crime increased from 2,603 incidents between April-December 2008 to 2,663 during the same period in 2009.

The level of assaults decreased from 616 to 549 across the borough. He said this was “thanks in large part to the work of North Down officers in policing the night time economy in Bangor and Holywood, utilising the CCTV system, and with the assistance of the licensees in Bangor, in operating the BAND initiative”.

There was a sharp rise in the number of domestic burglaries from 151 in 2008 to 174 in 2009.

He said: “We have been running pro-active operations to counteract this rise and we hope to get back on track by the end of the year.

“High visibility policing has also been targeting areas which have been affected by distraction burglaries so we have been introducing leaflet drops to warn of the dangers and also inform people the measures they can take to combat it.”

April to December saw an increase in the number of illegal drug seizures from 68 to 85, which the chief inspector said was the result of a number of initiatives in the borough.

“As well as educating young people as to the effects of drug abuse we are informing parents to look out for sudden mood changes or behavioural changes in their children, and to supervise what their children are looking at on the internet, who they are with, and what they have in their rooms,” he said.

“We have also been working with FASA (Forum for Action on Substance Abuse) to help combat this problem in North Down. We try to enforce the law as much as we can and have seized a range of drugs, mainly cannabis, ranging from £5 up to hundreds of pounds.”

The number of anti-social behaviour incidents reported to police fell from 2,805 to 2,348 which, he said, had come about through initiatives such as Operation Snapper and Street Safe.

Alderman Ellie McKay welcomed the news but asked the chief inspector if he had a breakdown of figures for Holywood.

Chief Inspector McEwan said he did not have figures at hand but confirmed that there had been a reduction in such incidents in the town.

“Tackling street drinking has helped reduce these numbers as well as work carried out through the Street Safe initiative,” he continued.

There was an increase in the reported incidents of criminal damage in the borough from 669 in 2008 to 696 in 2009.

The chief inspector described these figures as an “anomaly which we are working hard to turn around”.

There was also an increase in the number of motor thefts from 75 in 2008 to 111 in 2009.

Councillor Anne Wilson asked the chief inspector why there had been a 48 percent rise in such incidents.

The chief inspector said the increase was largely to do with “thefts of high value equipment” such as sat navs and called on people to keep such items out of sight when parking their vehicle.

A member of the general public asked whether there were plans for more inter-generational work in Holywood between young people and the elderly.

Neighbourhood officer for Holywood Bob Harris said there was a number of ongoing initiatives taking place in the town and that in future months there would be work taking place between a number of youth groups and the Over-55 Club.

Concluding his remarks, Chief Inspector McEwan said: “As always I want to reiterate we can only continue to succeed with the help of the public, and so I want to thank the community in North Down for their ongoing support.”

On a final note DPP chair Marion Smith passed on good wishes to injured policeman Peadar Heffron who was recently injured in a dissident bomb attack.

The next public meeting of North Down DPP will take place on March 15 at the Clandeboye Lodge Hotel in Bangor.

ARDS DPP

There was an additional 195 crimes reported across Ards for the period April-December 2009 compared to the previous year, the PSNI has told the latest DPP meeting.

Chief Inspector Philip Knox revealed the figures during Monday’s meeting which took place at Donaghadee Community Centre.

The level of assaults seen across Ards increased from 535 in 2008 to 653 last year.

Both domestic and commercial burglaries showed an increase of 30 and 10 respectively. Domestic burglaries increased from 129 in 2008 to 159 in 2009, while commercial incidents showed a change from 111 in 2008 to 121 last year.

On a more positive note, reported incidents of anti-social behaviour fell by 23 percent against a target of 10 percent.

The number of incidents of criminal damage also showed a decrease but this was minimal.

For 2009, 616 incidents of criminal damage were recorded by police compared to 614 the previous year.

The number of people killed or seriously injured on Ards’ roads also showed a slight decrease of one, from 26 in 2008 to 25 for the same period last year.

The next meeting of Ards DPP will take place on May 25 in Ballygowan Village Hall.

Belfast Telegraph