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Northern Ireland crime levels on the decline but use of knives is worrying trend

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Police officers attend the scene in Downpatrick, Co Down, where a man his 20s was stabbed to death on Monday (Liam McBurney/PA)

Police officers attend the scene in Downpatrick, Co Down, where a man his 20s was stabbed to death on Monday (Liam McBurney/PA)

Police officers attend the scene in Downpatrick, Co Down, where a man his 20s was stabbed to death on Monday (Liam McBurney/PA)

The stabbing of Aidan Mann on Monday brings to seven the number of people here who have lost their lives to knife crime this year since the end of 2020.

PSNI statistics also show there were 23 attempted murders using knives up to November last year, with 58 reported threats to kill involving knives or other sharp instruments.

Crime has shown an overall downward trend over the last 17 years since the recording of statistics began.

However, in the last year there were 102,399 crimes recorded — an increase of 4,674 (4.8%) on the previous 12 months.

Statistics show that the more restrictive Covid-19 lockdown measures first introduced on March 23, 2020 had an impact, with lower crime levels from that date through to February 2021.

Once the more stringent lockdown measures were lifted, crime levels increased from March 2021, levelling out to what was expected prior to the pandemic.

Eight policing districts experienced a higher level of crime, with Newtownards and North Down experiencing the largest increase — 14.4% more recorded crime than in the previous 12 months.

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Higher crime levels were recorded in violence against the person, sexual offences and drug offences.

There were lower crime levels in terms of robbery, theft, burglary and criminal damage.

That’s thought to be down partly to more people working from home, therefore not leaving properties empty for long periods of time.

Rape increased by 13%, while other sexual offences increased by 15%. There were four rapes involving a knife.

From December 2020 to November 2021 there were 15 murders, one manslaughter and one corporate manslaughter.

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath said: “The events in Downpatrick on Monday have shocked the local community.

“The murder of Aidan Mann was a horrific incident and there can be no justification.

“The statistics are shocking — six murders in one year through knife crime alone, 23 attempted murders and 58 reported threats to kill involving knives or other sharp instruments.

“While these crimes do not reflect the majority of people in Northern Ireland, it must be made clear that violence is not acceptable. Carrying a knife for the purposes of such violence cannot be justified.

“When such crimes occur all of us must do all that we can to aid the PSNI to bring those responsible to justice and ensure these crimes are not repeated.”


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