Overall crime down - but race hate on rise

Ballymena PSNI Station. INBT48-261AC
Ballymena PSNI Station. INBT48-261AC

Police say there has been an overall 5.5% drop in recorded crime in Ballymena - but race hate crimes have shown a slight increase.

Superintendent Ryan Henderson described the newly published crime statistics for Ballymena as ‘encouraging’. The figures, published by the Department for Justice, cover the period April 2014 to April 2015.

The Superintendent noted: “There have been reductions across a range of crime types including burglary, violence against the person, shoplifting as well as anti-social behaviour. Every crime has an impact on individuals, families and the community as a whole. While we will never reach a position where crime is eradicated, our often unseen work allows people to go about their everyday lives in relative safety.”

The Mid and East Antrim police chief added: “We have worked hard as a police service to meet significant demand from communities across many issues and incidents. While policing is changing, our commitment to people in Ballymena remains steadfast and we will continue to work hard to keep people safe in a challenging financial environment.”

Superintendent Henderson commented on the figures by crime type:

Drugs offences - down by 4.7%: “Police have detected 162 drugs offences across Ballymena last year. We understand that drugs are an issue of community concern and so we work hard to target dealers. We have made some significant drug seizures in the past year with, for example, cannabis plants with a street value of around £220,000 seized in Duke Street last August.

“We have also shown tenacity in tackling street level drug dealers - as evidenced by officers chasing a drugs suspect on foot in Granville Drive in February, recovering nineteen bags of cannabis and tablets nearby.

“However, we understand that the sale of illegal drugs continues in many, if not in all Ballymena communities. The supply and misuse of drugs is challenging for us as a service, and corrosive for communities. I would ask people for their assistance in tackling drug dealing by contacting us with any information on dealers in your area. You can speak to your local officers, call police on the new non-emergency number 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 111 555.”

Burglary - down 32%: “The reduction in domestic burglary is a good news story for everyone. Police have been innovative in reducing crime like burglary through the proactive work of the Reducing Offending Unit. In the past year, the Unit focussed on 23 priority offenders in the Larne and Ballymena areas. Targeting prolific offenders in this way offers them options away from a life of crime but also allows police to bring them before the courts if the wrong choices are made.

“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 into next year.”

Racist hate crimes – up by 6 incidents: “This slight rise mirrors a rise in racist hate incidents across Northern Ireland. There were a total of 45 reported incidents last year in Ballymena. We are encouraged that people are reporting hate crimes to us and the service as a whole has worked hard to raise awareness of the issue. Hate crime is in part a societal issue and so we are working with groups such as the Ballymena Inter Ethnic Forum to challenge hate crime.”

Violence with injury - down by 4%: “Violence with injury covers a wide range of crime types. It includes domestic abuse behind closed doors and more visible alcohol related street disorder. The positive is that this crime type is down, reflecting police working in partnership with statutory agencies such as the council, voluntary organisations such as Woman’s Aid and businesses associated with the night time economy.”

Criminal damage – up by one incident: “Criminal damage can include a window of a house broken, damage caused to a car, a local play park or a business premises. The criminal damage figures have generally remained static. I acknowledge however the impact of criminal damage.

“It can be extremely distressing and frustrating to have your windows smashed or car damaged. There is room for improvement in how we deal with these types of crime.”