Crime up but Ballymoney is still safe place

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Ballymoney is ‘still a very safe place to live and work’ despite crime figures increasing by 9.2%.

Local Area Commander Brenda Cairns discussed the crime statistics for the policing area after the Northern Ireland crime stats were published last week.

Chief Inspector Cairns described an increase in crime by 9.2% as, “something for police to focus on” but stated: “Overall, crime levels remain relatively low within Ballymoney and the area is still a very safe place to live and work.”

She also revealed that burglary had increased the most with a record 14.6% rise during the year while drug offences rose the least by 1%.

She explained: “Police continue to enforce drugs laws robustly across the area and Operation Torus, which ran last winter, contributed greatly to tackling the sale and distribution of illegal drugs in the local area. Clearly police will never solve the issue of drugs in society but we can do our very best to keep people safe from the dangers of drugs and the people who deal them.

“Ballymoney experienced a rise in burglaries last year, which is very much unwelcomed. To place this in context, that represents an average of one burglary in the Ballymoney area per week.

“Vacant properties have, in recent times, been targeted by criminals and account for a proportion of the figures. Criminals will take the path of least resistance and so will target vacant properties, often in rural areas. We need to ensure that our crime prevention messages make people, for example, secure vacant properties and remove, where possible, copper tanks and other materials that criminals will go for. Also, please let local police know if your a property is vacant, so that we can give it passing attention and look out for suspicious activity. You can contact us to do that on the new 101 non emergency number.

“In a purely policing context, we will continue to monitor priority offenders and work towards reduced burglary rates next year. I would also encourage people living in rural areas to register their number with the text alert scheme to receive information on crime in your locality. Please call the new non emergency number 101 for more information or to register your number.”

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Meanwhile, the figures also revealed that violence with injury decrease by 6.9% and criminal damage was up by 9.4%.

“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. The positive is that this crime type is down, reflecting work done by police in partnership with statutory agencies such as the council, voluntary organisations such as Womans Aid and businesses associated with the night time economy,” she continued.

“Criminal damage can include a window of a house broken, damage caused to a car, a local play park or a business premises. We have had a recent increase in cars being damaged in the Ballymoney town area but have made one arrest in connection with a number of such incidents. The visibility of police in the local area can also reduce this crime type.”

Concluding Chief Inspector Cairns added that clearance rates were down by 10.6%.

“A crime is cleared when a suspect is arrested and charged. Crime outcomes may include charges, summons, cautions, discretionary disposals or penalty notices. Clearances are down across a range of crime types including burglary, possession of drugs and robbery.

“Clearance rates are clearly something to work on. Indeed ServiceFirst, a new operational policing model within the area, includes a new dedicated team progressing criminal cases. This means that front line reponse officers have more time to attend emergency calls and the new team can focus on getting on with the investigations that will result in court appearances.

“While we have seen an increase in recorded crime for 2013/14, Ballymoney is still a safe place to live, work or visit. I am proud of the work of my officers in Ballymoney. They work 24 hours a day seven days a week to help make the area safer for everyone. I understand that every single crime is has an impact on the victim, their family and the community as a whole. While we will never reach a place where crime is reduced to zero, police are committed to keeping people safe as they go about their everyday lives in the Ballymoney area”