North's crime rate lowest in almost 10 years

Recorded crime in the North has dropped to its lowest level in nearly a decade, it was disclosed today.

Official figures from the Police Service of Northern Ireland showed a drop of 10.5% for 2007/08 – with the total number of crimes down 12,676 to 108,468 - the lowest level since 1998/99.

Violent crime, robberies and criminal damage were all substantially down. Sexual offences were up, but rape was down. Burglaries were up, but domestic burglaries were down.

The figures were the first since Sinn Féin gave its backing to the PSNI, took its seats on the Policing Board and encouraged the nationalist and republican community to support the police.

Announcing the figures Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton welcomed the drop in crime rates.

He said: “For the last number of years crime in Northern Ireland has shown a downward trend. This year it has fallen by 10.5% which is a substantial decrease and is testament to the work of police officers throughout Northern Ireland who have been working determinedly to drive crime down.

“Police officers in all areas have been working with local communities to listen to their concerns about crime and working in partnership to tackle those problems.

“It is clear that this work is paying off.”

Mr Leighton said violent crime, which was a cause of concern to many, had decreased by 7.6%.

Robberies had been reduced by a dramatic 27.4%. Theft was down 10.9% and criminal damage, which had also been highlighted as a major concern, was down 14.9%.

Mr Leighton added: “The decrease in crime has come about because of the determined effort on the part of police officers and many in the community working together to prevent and reduce crime. However we have more work to do.”

He said sexual offences had risen by 1.1% – but within the category the number of rapes was down 11.4%.

Burglaries overall were up by 1.2%, but domestic burglaries down by 1.7%.

There was a drop in the overall number of domestic crimes and also hate crimes - those with a racist of sectarian motive were down but those motivated by disability were up 61.5% – 16 offences.

The deputy chief said: “All of these statistics clearly demonstrate that we are making Northern Ireland safer. Last year the Police Service reduced the number of District Command Units from 29 to eight.

“This was to ensure that we provided a more effective and efficient service and resources were targeted where they were most needed – in frontline policing.

“These statistics show that the restructuring is achieving results.”

Specific operations had been run throughout the year to target prolific offenders and to tackle violent crime associated with the night time economy .

There was continuing targeting of crime hot spots and high visibility patrolling put in place.

“All of these operations have helped to reduce crime and prevented members of the community becoming victims of crime,” said Mr Leighton.

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