Crime figures up but picture still positive

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The latest crime statistics for Ballymena paint a ‘broadly positive picture’, according to Area Commander, Chief Inspector Catherine Magee.

Overall, crime is up in Ballymena but by just 3.1%, matching a similarly small increase across Northern Ireland.

Locally, drugs related offences increased by 5.6% in 2013-14.

However, the Chief Inspector pointed out that police made more arrests for drugs offences this year than last and have taken a large amount of drugs off the streets.

She said: “This demonstrates our commitment to keeping people safe by tackling the illegal drugs trade. Operation Torus ran across Northern Ireland last winter and saw multiple arrests and drug seizures made on the streets of the Ballymena area.

“Our work in tackling the drugs trade continues outside of specific operations and involves all of our officers. For example, neighbourhood officers out on the beat detected a cannabis factory and seized plants worth £150,000 at the end of February.

“Arrests for lower lever drug offences are made frequently across Ballymena. We ask local people for their assistance in tackling drug dealing by contacting us with any information on drug dealers in your area.

“You can speak to your local officers, call police on the new non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 111 555.”

Chief Inspector Magee also pointed out that locally there has been a decrease over the past year in incidents of criminal damage, domestic burglary and violence with injury.

Regarding criminal damage - down by 7.3%, she said: “Criminal damage can include a window of a house broken, damage caused to a car, a local play park or a business premises. Our patrols throughout Ballymena town and the rural areas provide a visible presence in communities, helping to reduce these incidents.” Also down in number (by 4.9%) in the past year is violence with injury which, the Chief Inspector said covers a wide range of crime types from domestic abuse to alcohol related street disorder.

She said: “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 and businesses associated with the night time economy.”

Chief Inspector Magee added that crime clearance rates are up across a range of crime types including burglary, possession of drugs and robbery.

“This is a positive statistic which shows that police are investigating serious crime robustly and using common sense to dispose of more minor offences,” she said.

She pointed out that while 2014 saw a slight increase in recorded crime, this follows four years of decreasing levels.