Editor's Viewpoint: Police's show of strength is a start
There is understandable public disquiet at the recent spate of car hijackings in Belfast during which women drivers in particular have been targeted.
So far this year there have been 23 hijackings or attempted hijackings across the city, and people have been asking pointedly about the police response to these outrages.
As this newspaper reveals today, the PSNI is fighting back, and from mid-January there have been 20 arrests in relation to hijackings, resulting in eight charges being made. Since the PSNI has started carrying out this operation, they have made 79 arrests for a wide range of offences,
This is all to the good, and the police need to be encouraged to sustain their campaign. The number of arrests, and the range of alleged offences, show that this is having some effect.
This is reassuring to all motorists, and particularly to female drivers who are singled out for attack because they are believed by the hijackers to be more vulnerable.
Despite the firm approach by the police, an added worry is that many of those arrested are given bail, and are therefore potentially able to offend again.
The police, like everyone else, are required to abide by law, but the courts need to play their part too in ensuring that a tough line is taken to support the police action on the streets.
One of the major side-effects of the hijacking campaign is to instil fear among motorists to the point that many people lack the confidence to undertake what, in normal circumstances, should be an ordinary journey.
The task of the police is to help restore public confidence by showing that they are taking this threat seriously. They also need to prove to the cynics that this is not just a public relations exercise which will be quietly dropped after an initial show of strength.
To be fair, the PSNI seems to be taking the requisite measures to deal with this anti-social behaviour, but in the long-term they will be judged on results in making our streets safer for drivers.