Local politicians have demanded the introduction of a Rural Crime Unit in Northern Ireland, after the Chief Constable admitted there isn’t one.
The revelation came during a question and answer session involving the PSNI’s top officer, following a question by UUP MLA Robin Swann.
Swann said: “I am gravely alarmed at disbandment of PSNIs Rural Crime Unit and I have asked for a meeting with the Justice Minister as a matter of urgency.
“It is totally unbelievable that this dedicated unit has been disbanded in the dark of night, while attacks on our elderly rural population are on the increase. Likewise, the latest NFU figures show that rural crime in Northern Ireland is now costing rural families £2.7 million in the last year, and that is only on thefts that have had insurance claims against them, as many rural thefts go unreported as the farmer can no longer chance or afford an increase to his insurance premium.
“The bottom line is that the Rural Crime Unit must be reinstated as a priority otherwise there is the dangerous potential for such crime to become the next anti-social epidemic.”
TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston was also shocked at the news that there is no longer a Rural Crime Unit, he said: “With much fanfare, the previous Justice Minister established this unit to tackle the scourge of rural crime -this was welcome and provided an identifiable PSNI presence dedicated to tackling this type of crime.
“If we take the Ballymena area as an example we have had rural police stations closed in Cullybackey, Broughshane, Portglenone and Kells which has led to a lack of visible policing other than a part time Ballymena station. I would imagine this is a familiar story across the Province.
“A Rural Crime Unit is a necessity, not an expendable option, for tacking rural crime. The new Justice Minister along with the PSNI need to address this issue.”