54% increase in drugs offences year-on-year

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The number of drugs offences recorded in Derry and Strabane rose by a spectacular 54 per cent last year against a general downward trend in reported crime.

There were lesser increases in the number of burglaries (4 per cent) and the number of thefts (0.4 per cent) reported across the district.

And there was also a 5.6 per cent increase in the amount of anti-social behaviour (ASB) - recorded separately from the general crime statistics - between 2016/17 and 2018/19.

The figures are outlined in Derry and Strabane Policing and Community Safety Partnership’s (PCSP) annual report, which on the whole, makes for positive reading.

For instance the report notes how “overall recorded crime for the Council area for 2017/18 reduced slightly by 0.1 per cent which equates to 10 fewer crimes in the city and district”.

This bucked the trend elsewhere in the North where crime was on the up.

“This small reduction compares favourably with the overall statistic for Northern Ireland which showed an increase of 0.3 per cent. The crime trend in the Council area for 2017/18 is down,” the report states.

Specifically, the number of violent crimes against the person fell from 3,287 to 3,205 (-2.5%); the number of violent crimes that resulted in injury, including homicide fell from 1,399 to 1,312 (-6.2%); the number of sexual offences fell from 306 to 293(-4.2%); the number of robberies fell from 52 to 47 (-9.6%); the number of thefts from/of vehicles fell from 332 to 316 (-4.8%); and the number of incidences of criminal damage fell from 1,832 to 1,733 (-5.4%).

However, there was a large hike from 409 to 630 (54%) in recorded drugs offences; and smaller increases, from 446 to 464 (4%), and, from 2,106 to 2,115 (0.4%), in burglaries and thefts respectively.

There was also a decrease in uncategorised miscellaneous offences - from 346 to 282 (18.5%) year-on-year.

This tallied at 8,494 recorded crimes last year down by 0.1 per cent from 8,504 in 2016/17.

Notwithstanding the overall decrease in crime that was not enjoyed everywhere in the North, the report shows anti-social behaviour for the Council area increased by 5.6 per cent when compared to the number of recorded ASB incidents for 2016/17.

“In 2017/18 there were 5034 incidents of ASB recorded by PSNI as compared to 4766 recorded incidents for 2016/17 – an increase of 268 incidents,” the report states.

“This increase is over double the figure for Northern Ireland which showed an increase of 2.5 per cent over the same period,” it adds.

Data contained in the report show that anti-social behaviour in the Council area “increases during the summer months of July and August coinciding with school holidays, bonfires and parades”.

“There is also a more moderate spike in December. Overall anti-social behaviour is higher for the first six months of the year (April to September) and then reduced significantly from October to March.

“Overall the ASB trend for 2017/18 was downward,” the report concludes.