Crime rates rise

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Latest statistics for Northern Ireland have shown an overall rise in the levels of criminality including action by organised groups. Despite the rise, confidence in the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) remains high. 

Last year there were three security related deaths in Northern Ireland, 36 shooting incidents and 57 bombing incidents recorded by police. Those figures represent 37 fewer shootings than the previous year and the lowest number in the last decade. However, there were 16 more bombing incidents in in 2015/2016 than in 2014/2015.

Fourteen casualties occurred from paramilitary style shootings last year, 13 of which were attributed to republicans and one to loyalists. There were a further 58 casualties as a result of paramilitary style assaults, 47 of which were attributed to loyalists and 11 to republicans.

PSNI seized 66 firearms and arrested 149 people under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act but the number of arrests showed a significant drop of 78 from the previous year and was recorded as the lowest number of arrests in the last decade. The number of charges brought, approximately half than in the previous year, also represents a decade-long low.

The Police Recorded Security Situation Report compiled data stretching back to 2006/07 and shows that almost 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland is still in need of a major security operation to tackle an ongoing security situation.

Worrying statistics show that in the last decade there have been 23 deaths in Northern Ireland related to the security situation. Republicans have been blamed for 234 of the 599 shooting incidents recorded by police in total, while 36 have been attributed to loyalists.

Of the 270 casualties sustained as a result of paramilitary-style shootings, 36 were by loyalists and 234 by republican groups. A further 505 casualties occurred as a result of paramilitary style-assaults by both loyalists (386) and republicans (119).

Seizures in the last decade give an indication of the volume of firearms, ammunition and explosives potentially on the streets in Northern Ireland. Since 2006, the PSNI has seized 851 firearms, collected 89,749 ammunition rounds and uncovered 479.9 kilograms of explosives. Of the 1,705 people arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act, just 382 people have been charged.

Data collected by Detail Data further show the extent of the impact of paramilitary activity on life in Northern Ireland. It showed that there were 3,899 cases where people were forced from their homes by paramilitary intimidation between April 2006 and March 2015.

Freedom of Information requests to the PSNI and Translink also revealed that from 2013 to 2015, there were 193 road closures and between 2006 and 2015, there were 176 security alerts on rail lines and more than 4,000 train services were halted.

Overall crime rate rises

The level of overall crime in Northern Ireland increased last year despite the PSNI recording the lowest levels of robbery, burglary and vehicle offences since records began in 1998/99.

Drug offences are the highest they have ever been with almost 3,000 people arrested in Northern Ireland last year.

Also increased are crimes linked to vulnerability including sexual assaults and domestic abuse, with PSNI specifying child sexual exploitation as an area of increased criminal offence.

The new statistics published in May in the Police Recorded Crime in Northern Ireland: Monthly Update cover the period from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016.

When compared to the same period in 2014/15 the statistics show that violence against the person was up by 4.2 per cent, sexual offences were up 11.3 per cent, criminal damage was up 3.5 per cent, drug offences were up by 10.5 per cent, possession of weapons offences were up 19.6 per cent, public order offences were up 1.6 per cent and miscellaneous crimes against society were up 4.8 per cent.

Robbery was down by 16.8 per cent, theft-burglary was down 1.8 per cent and all other theft offences were down 4.2 per cent.

Crime in total was up by 1.8 per cent.

Seven policing districts across Northern Ireland recorded an increase in outcome rates. The outcome rate measures offences where the offender receives a formal sanction by the PSNI. Three policing districts, including Lisburn and Castlereagh (37.2 per cent), Ards and North Down (32.8 per cent) and Antrim and Newtownabbey (29.8 per cent) recorded their highest outcome rate since annual statistics began being compared to 2007/08.

Other areas recording a higher outcome rate when compared to last year were, Belfast City, Fermanagh and Omagh, Causeway Coast and Glens and Mid and East Antrim.

Policing confidence

Despite an increase in crime rates, over 80 per cent of people expressed confidence in policing last year.

The Perceptions of Policing, Justice and Anti-Social Behaviour report by the Department of Justice was based on 2,000 interviews carried out at households across Northern Ireland between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2015.

It puts the overall confidence rating at 80.9 per cent, similar to statistics recorded for the previous year.

In fact, the only significant change in the results to the seven strands used to gauge policing confidence was a 3.4 per cent increase in the number of respondents who were confident the Police Ombudsman helps ensure police do a good job.

As well as policing within Northern Ireland as a whole, the report also assessed confidence in local police, both overall and in specific aspects of their work. It puts overall confidence in local police at 68.1 per cent.

However, while 85.1 per cent of people believed local police would treat you with respect if you had to contact them and 67.7 per cent believe they treat everyone fairly regardless of who they are, only 53.3 per cent expressed a confidence that local police can be relied on to be there when you need them. Even fewer people (53 per cent) believe local police can be relied on to deal with minor crimes and just 55 per cent believe that local police are dealing with things that matter to their community.

Just 39 per cent of people expressed a confidence in local police working in partnership with other agencies, including district councils, to address anti-social behaviour (ASB) and crime issues. Only 36.5 per cent agreed that the police and other agencies both seek other people’s views about ASB and crime, while 41.1 per cent believed they were dealing with the problems.

The report also measured confidence in the criminal justice system, indicating that 43.3 per cent of people surveyed believed the system to be effective, while 60.1 per cent declared it to be fair.

Security incidents in the last decade

  • 23 deaths
  • 599 shootings
  • 270 paramilitary shooting casualties
  • 505 paramilitary assault casualties
  • 851 fire arm seizures
  • 89,749 ammunition rounds seized
  • 479.9 kilograms of explosives uncovered

 

 

 

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