Belfast Telegraph

Policing plan will target violent and anti-social behaviour problems

By Ruaidhri McCarney

The Harbour ward area in Bangor is the worst spot in North Down for both violent crime and anti-social behaviour, according to the North Down Policing and Community Safety Partnership.

The partnership's plan for 2013 to 2014, which gives much greater detail than the local crime statistics published in May, indicates that the Harbour Ward area – the seafront area where much of the town's nightlife centres – sees 24% of all violent crime and 18% of anti-social behaviour in the whole of North Down.

Bangor Castle and Conlig came second and third in both categories, with around 9% of both violent crimes and anti-social behaviour.

Elsewhere, Craigavad, Ballymaconnell and Broadway were consistently amongst the lowest areas for criminal offences.

The report states that between 2006 and 2012 all crime in North Down has reduced by 31%, although crime has stayed at roughly the same level since 2009.

North Down PCSP's plan is based partly on a survey gauging the priorities of local residents.

However, as the PCSP was only fully formed in October 2012, a borough-wide community survey carried out by Northern Ireland Statistical Research Agency (NISRA) in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Policing Board in February 2010 forms the basis of the partnership's targets. In this survey, 3,461 questionnaires were issued to a possible 76,323 North Down residents (as of 2001) and only 907 returned, meaning just 1.2% of the population is represented.

Of the small number surveyed, 44% of respondents felt anti-social behaviour is the single biggest problem within the North Down area.The second biggest problem was burglary at 25%. This was the top concern in 2008 attracting 21% and in 2006 with 24%.

The third biggest concern was road traffic offences with 13%. In previous surveys, dangerous and careless driving came third with 8% in 2008.

The survey also outlined where residents feel police should be concentrating resources.

In these terms, 29% of residents felt that prompt response to emergencies was the top priority, an increase from the two previous surveys taken in 2004 and 2008.

Around 24% of residents feel police should focus on visible patrolling, which is a reduction on the 2006 and 2004 figure of 42%.

Finally, 17% of respondents highlighted crime prevention as a priority, an increase on the 16% in 2008 and 14% in 2006.

Outlined in the PCSP's plan is the obligation to advise the PSNI Commander and the Policing Board on priorities for policing that have arisen from "continuous community consultation and engagement".

In addition, the Policing Committee will monitor PSNI performance to ensure delivery against the Partnership Plan.

Key strategic priorities for the plan for 2013-2014 include:

• reducing domestic burglaries;

• a reduction in the number of anti-social behaviour incidents;

• a reduction in the proportion of violent crime where alcohol is a contributing factor;

• a reduction the number of crimes with a domestic violence motivation.

Chairman of North Down PCSP, Alderman Alan Graham (pictured), said the plan "sets out what we will do to make communities in North Down safer and empower communities to develop solutions to help tackle crime, fear of crime and anti-social behaviour".

He added: "This plan has taken a long time to prepare and we worked with a large number of agencies.

"It was issued for public consultation and a significant amount of information was considered, including crime statistics and previous consultation processes.

"We believe that this plan reflects the wishes of the communities and will seek to make North Down a safer place for everyone."

Meanwhile, a police website shows that in June this year there were 268 crimes in Bangor alone, with 129 of the incidents being anti-social behaviour.

There were also 51 violent and sexual offenses, 26 shoplifting incidents and 20 instances of criminal damage and arson.

Belfast Telegraph


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