NI sees 17% rise in rape reports

The Police Service of Northern Ireland published its annual crime statistics
The Police Service of Northern Ireland published its annual crime statistics

Police dealt with a record number of sexual and drug offences in Northern Ireland over the past year, new figures have shown.

The number of domestic crimes reported to police have also have hit a 13-year high.

The PSNI has published its annual crime statistics today, which show overall crime was at its second lowest total since the first report in 1998/99.

There were 98,301 crimes recorded by the PSNI, a marginal rise of 0.3% crimes on the previous year’s 98,041.

But the figures showed that sexual offences in the Province have reached their highest recorded level in almost 20 years, with 3,443 reported cases in the last 12 months.

That is a 9.3% increase over the previous year and is almost three times the level recorded in 2000/01.

The number of reported rapes has shot up from 821 in in 2016/17 to 967 in the past 12 months, a rise of 17.8%

Drug offences also reached their highest level in 2017/18, seeing a 20.1% increase from 5,416 in 2016/17 to 6,502 in 2017/18.

Police said the higher number of recorded offences during 2017/18 “reflects an increase in proactive work by all elements within PSNI in response to community concern about drugs”.

Meanwhile, there were 29,913 domestic abuse incidents reported in 2017/18, an increase of 2.6% or 747 incidents. This is highest level recorded since 2004/05.

And the number of crimes with a domestic abuse motivation also reached a record high at 14,560 in 2017/18, up by 4.5% on the previous year.

Referring to the increase in domestic abuse crimes reported, Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris said: “We welcome the increase in reports and believe that this shows increasing confidence in the police service.

“It also reflects our continued commitment to working in partnership with many statutory and voluntary organisations to increase reporting and improve our response to victims of domestic abuse.

“Despite the rise in the number of reported incidents we still believe that a large number of domestic incidents are going unreported.”

He added that the annual figures show reductions in a number of crime types such as burglary, robbery, criminal damage and theft, a number of which have fallen to their lowest levels.

He added that the PSNI was committed gto “keeping people safe” and pointed to the 23.9% increase in drug seizures as an example of that.

DCC Harris stated: “In 2017/18 there were 3,121 people arrested for drug related offences, this is 15.5% higher than 2016/17 and equates to 419 more arrests than the previous year.”