Causeway Coast and Glens Commander, Superintendent John Magill has described the 2014– 2015 crime statistics for Ballymoney as a broadly positive picture, after their release last week.
Following an overall increase in crime during the last reporting period, crime was down by 5.7% last year, something described by Superintendent Magill as a “welcome swing”.
Superintendent Magill, furthermore, described Ballymoney as, “a safe place to live and work” and attributed this to, “good police work coupled with support from the people of Ballymoney and solid partnership working with statutory agencies”.
However the police commander also cautioned that a spate of recent paramilitary style attacks cannot be ignored: “There was an increase in paramilitary style attacks across Northern Ireland last year. In Ballymoney we have experienced an increased number of paramilitary related incidents, not least the vicious murder of Brian McIlhagga back in January.
“This is a worrying throwback to years gone by, when paramilitaries sought to rule communities through violence and fear. However, I can assure you that the determination of the Police Service to keep people safe far outstrips the desire of those who perpetrate crimes of self-interest to cause harm.
“While paramilitaries serve their own ends, my officers remain committed to doing what matters most to communities – bringing drug dealers before the courts, promoting road safety and reducing burglary and anti-social behaviour.”
Superintendent Magill discusses the individual figures for the area:
Burglary – down by 21%
“Ballymoney experienced a drop in burglaries last year, which is pleasing. Each and every burglary is an distressing experience for the victim and behind the figures lie personal stories. Our detectives have worked hard to not only investigate burglaries after the event, but also to monitor and manage priority offenders to prevent crime.
“Our local officers and Crime Prevention Officer have also worked hard to highlight crime prevention messages. Remember that around 40% of burglaries happen through unlocked doors and windows. If people continue to listen to our crime prevention messages and take the simple recommended steps, we can maintain this reduction in burglary rates into next year.”
Anti-social behaviour – down by 11%
“Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is a blight on communities and a reduction in incidents is a positive development. Police work closely with colleagues such as local councils and community groups to tackle ASB in a co-ordinated way. I understand that one report of anti-social behaviour may have followed weeks or months of distress and so we will not be complacent around the issue.”
Criminal damage - up by 13%
“Criminal damage can include a window broken in a house, damage caused to a car, a local play park or a business premises. Officers worked hard following a crime series involving cars being damaged in the Ballymoney town area last year and focussed their patrols around the affected areas. A drop in criminal damage can bring a concurrent rise in the quality of life for local people.”
Violence with injury - up by 5%
“Violence with injury can cover a wide range of crime types. It ranges from domestic abuse behind closed doors to more visible alcohol related street disorder. It is a concern that violence with injury is up and is something for us to focus on in the coming times.”
Drugs offences - down by 45%
“Police continue to enforce drugs laws robustly and Operation Torus, which ran across the start of this year, contributed to curbing the sale and distribution of illegal drugs in the local area.
“The drop in drugs offences means a drop in drugs detections. However, this does not mean that the drug problem are on the wane. We made 114 drug detections in Ballymoney last year involving a range of drugs such as cannabis and MDMA, also known as ecstasy. Clearly there are a core of people in the Ballymoney area who continue to misuse and sell drugs. We work in a co-ordinated way to address this issue and bring dealers before the courts.
“For example, PSNI organised crime made sizable drug seizures across Northern Ireland last year and brought traffickers before the courts. This work stops the supply of drugs upstream, reducing the level of product available in towns like Ballymoney. Operations against drug dealers happen at difference levels across the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the new presence of the National Crime Agency here should further damage the dealers.
“New psychoactive substances or so called “legal highs” also have become prevalent amongst drug users across Northern Ireland in the past few years. These products are not safe despite their legality. The rise of “legal highs” has changed drug use which may account for some of the reduction in drug detections. However, the risks involved in drug misuse remain ever present.
“Clearly police alone will never solve the issue of drugs in society but we will do our level best to keep people safe from the dangers of drugs and the criminals who deal them.”