Belfast Telegraph

Rise in Northern Ireland crimes - over 100,000 recorded in year

The number of crimes recorded in Northern Ireland has increased this year
The number of crimes recorded in Northern Ireland has increased this year

By Eimear McGovern

Crimes in Northern Ireland breached the 100,000 mark for the first time in three years, new figures reveal.

Police recorded 100,995 crimes in 2018/2019, an increase of on 98,120 in 2017/18 following on from 98,0006 in 2016/17 - which was the lowest level recorded in the past 20 years.

There were 21 murders in the year - the third highest year in the past decade.

The number of sexual offences recorded is at its highest point over the past 20 years and accounts for 4% of all crimes, or more than 3,500. That was up from the 1,500 recorded in 1998/99.

The statistics show that there were 81 crimes on average recorded for every 1,000 people in Northern Ireland.

Violence against the person, sexual offences, possession of weapons and drugs offences have all seen a significant increase this year, according to figures recorded by the PSNI with 36,472 incidents recorded, a near seven percent increase.

Violence against the person includes a wide range of offences, from murder to minor assault.

Meanwhile, there's been a decrease in burglary and criminal damage, which showed their lowest level in the same time period.

Burglary levels are at a third of their highest level recorded in 2002/03 and have now fallen to account for just 6% of all crime, while criminal damage accounts for 17%.

Belfast city centre accounts for one third of all crimes, with 96 incidents for every thousand people.

Antrim and Newtownabbey has the lowest level of crime, with the rate there hovering at 47 per every 1,000 people.

Police said there had been a recent change in recording statistics with new offences included and a "sharp" increase in drug offences.

A PSNI spokesperson said: "Any increase in crime is of course disappointing, because behind each report or statistic is a victim. Even one crime is one too many and we will continue to ensure that each and every report is thoroughly investigated.”

"The figures, however, should be considered in light of a change in Home Office recording practice.

"Malicious communications offences were recorded in Northern Ireland for the first time during 2017/18 with 904 offences, rising to 1,902 offences in 2018/19. A Home Office change in recording practice was introduced in April 2018 requiring harassment to be recorded in addition to the most serious additional victim-based offence. Both of these changes should be considered.

"In addition, there has been a sharp increase in the number of drug offences recorded in recent years.  This illustrates our commitment to tackling the illegal supply and use of drugs, which can have devastating, life-changing effects.

"We’ve also, perhaps unsurprisingly, seen an increase in online crime. Sadly, we hear more and more about online scams and we will continue to offer warnings and advice to members of the public.

"What the figures do show is an increasing confidence in policing and we would continue to encourage the public to pick up the phone and report any crime to us, as we will always investigate."

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