Burglary topped the agenda at a public meeting on local crime issues held last week and described as ‘fractious’.
At the PCSP meeting held last Thursday in Banbridge Old Town Hall, members of the public voiced concerns about crime issues facing the town, including several who had been the victims of burglaries in recent weeks.
DUP MLA Carla Lockhart told the Leader that she supports additional resources being deployed to Banbridge to help deter, deal with and ultimately apprehend the thieves and those involved in criminal activities.
Mrs Lockhart said: “I stand four square with the people of Banbridge in their quest to see increased police resources on the ground, a specific campaign aimed at recruiting neighbourhood watch coordinators and assistance with home prevention techniques as advised by the crime prevention officers.
“I was encouraged to learn that over 23 arrests had been made within the council area in recent days. It is clear that opportunistic thieves are using the A1 carriage way to access and exit Banbridge at speed.
“I will be pressing the senior police officials to focus resources and to ensure that Banbridge is not the forgotten land when it comes to policing. I would also encourage members of the public to attend the crime prevention meeting on December 15 in the Town Hall at 7.30pm.”
However Councillor Glenn Barr told the Leader that he was disappointed that the police were unable to provide the meeting with accurate crime statistics for Banbridge alone.
He said: “My biggest gripe was that could not provide statistics for the Banbridge Area, rather it was for the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon as a whole. People want to know what is happening in their area, we were unable to see if crime had increased or decreased.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Barr has urged local residents to set up or join neighbourhood watch schemes to help make communities safer across the area.
He said: “There are already many neighbourhood watch schemes in the Banbridge area already, and we believe many more communities could benefit from introducing something similar in their area. Not only does it foster a sense of community spirit, it helps people feel safer and provides reassurance, particularly for elderly and vulnerable residents.”
Councillor Barr added: “Neighbourhood watch should be seen as something very positive; it isn’t about keeping tabs on your neighbours or ‘dobbing people in’, as it were. Where schemes have been operating, it has proven to be very worthwhile for residents and the community as a whole.
“Neighbourhood watch schemes are open to everyone regardless of geography, age, gender, race or religion, and if people are unsure about how they can go about setting up a group in their area, I am happy to help get the ball rolling.”
These schemes encourage people to look out for their neighbours, to report any type of suspicious behaviour and also to report crime that they may witness. There have been numerous incidents where neighbourhood watch members have reported suspicious behaviour and this has resulted in crimes being detected.
“Local policing teams are very keen to work with residents and to develop neighbourhood watch schemes in areas where they don’t currently exist. The scheme has been designed in a way that seeks to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved and play an active role in helping to keep their areas safe.
“If you want to get involved my contact number is 07713391927 or alternatively contact the Policing and community safety partnership (PCSP) 0300 0300 900”