Crime figures up, with jump in sectarian and racist incidents


There has been a jump in the number of both sectarian and racist crimes being recorded.

The PSNI released its latest raft of annual crime figures on Tuesday, revealing that this formed part of a wider increase in lawbreaking during 2014/15.

Although the overall figures show a 2.3 per cent growth in the total number of crimes (taking the tally to 105,072), the force said that this is still the fifth-lowest figure since 1998/99, when the current rules on counting crimes were introduced.

Delving further into this overall figure reveals which areas in particular saw the sharpest spikes.

For example, sectarian crimes increased by 82 (a jump of 8.5 per cent).

In addition there was an increase of 230 racist crimes (a jump of 33.3 per cent).

Meanwhile, the number of recorded homophobic crimes increased by 30 (a jump of 16.8 per cent). These are logged as “hate crimes”, and can include things such as assault and criminal damage.

They are defined as crimes that were perceived by the victims “or any other person” as being motivated by prejudice; whether racial, sectarian or homophobic.

Meanwhile, sexual offences increased by 22.4 per cent, drugs and weapon possession increased by 6.7 and 6.2 per cent, and domestic abuse by 5.6 per cent.

There was also a rise in certain security-related offences – including three deaths, compared to one the previous year.

In addition, those being arrested under section 41 of the Terrorism Act (allowing a police officer to arrest someone without a warrant if he “reasonably suspects” them to be a terrorist) also increased.

There were 227 such arrests during the year, with 35 of those arrested subsequently being charged (up from 168 and 32, respectively, a year earlier).

However, there were declines in the numbers of robberies, theft, criminal damage and public order offences.

Deputy chief constable Drew Harris said the 2.3 per cent overall rise was “similar to the wider trend that is being experienced right across the UK”.

He added: “There is a view that police deal only with crime, whereas this role accounts for less than 50 per cent of PSNI activity.

“We are reviewing how we deliver our service, in order to prioritise resources to the greatest threat, risk, harm and opportunity.”

Anne Connolly, chairwoman of the Policing Board, said the rise in “rape crime, hate crime, domestic abuse and paramilitary attacks” were of particular concern.

She said the board will have a “full discussion” about the force’s performance with the chief constable.

The figures cover the 12 months up to March 31, 2015.