THE LATEST police figures have revealed that crime is dropping in West Belfast. The statistics, which cover the 2011/12 financial year, show that crime has dropped in the West by 0.2 per cent and also that crime detection rates have improved by 3.1 per cent.

Incidents of anti-social behaviour have fallen by 439, a decrease of 12.4 per cent on the previous year, while arrests for drugs offences have risen by 16.1 per cent with 108 arrests in 2011/12 compared with 93 in 2010/11.

However, there were 194 drug seizure incidents recorded in 2011/12, representing a rise of 30.2 per cent. Out of a total of 12.2kg of cocaine powder seized across the North in the period, the largest quantity came from seizures in West Belfast (2.7kg).

Violent crime also increased by 5.1 per cent (77 incidents) from 1,520 in 2010/11 to 1,597 in 2011/12.

Matt Garrett, Chair of the West Belfast District Policing and Community Safety Partnership (DPCSP), has  welcomed the drop in crime levels.

“It shows success for not only the police but for other groups such as the West Belfast Community Safety Partnership who bring statutory agencies together to alleviate crime in their communities,” he said.

“The figures show that anti-social behaviour has dropped by 439 incidents in the last year, but that number is for recorded incidents of anti-social behaviour and many West Belfast residents will know that anti-social behaviour still largely goes unreported in this area, especially over weekend.

“I would encourage people to report any issues that affect them to the police, their elected representatives or community groups who are there to help.  If anyone is not comfortable in coming forward to police, there are methods in place to register a crime, for example with Community Restorative Justice.”

The PSNI’s West Belfast District Commander, Chief Superintendent George Clarke, welcomed the new  statistics.

“It shows that the police service, working with partner agencies and the community, is committed to making this part of the city safer for everyone,” he said.

Responding to the rise in drug crime, Area Commander for West Belfast, Chief Inspector Emma Bond, said: “Police in West Belfast, alongside detectives from the PSNI's Organised Crime Branch, remain determined to thwart criminal gangs who import, supply and sell dangerous illegal drugs.

“This is achievable through proactive policing and with support from the community,” she added.