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Police operation means a quiet holiday for lower Falls families

By Francesca Ryan

The major police crackdown on crime and anti-social behaviour in the lower Falls has had an impact with residents enjoying a comparatively quiet festive season.

The Falls Residents’ Association has reported a “quieter than normal” festive period as the PSNI continue their intensive policing project, Operation Echinus, in the district.

Operation Echinus started on November 12 and will continue through to March in a bid to lessen crime and  anti-social behaviour in the area.  Throughout 2012, we reported that a small criminal element was holding the entire district to ransom. Car theft, break-ins, assaults and criminal damage are just some of the crimes the gang has been involved in.

Fearful local residents welcomed the launch of Operation Echinus in November. To date, there has been a total of 176 people arrested or reported as part of the operation, 82 have been arrested or reported in the Divis area alone. Offences include disorderly behaviour, drug offences, driving offences, theft, criminal damage and breach of bail.

There have also been 247 bail checks and 128 foot patrols carried out as well as 156 ‘Op Habit’ letters issued, warning people about car security.

“This has definitely been a quieter than normal Christmas period,” said a spokesperson for the Falls Residents’ Association.  “It really wasn’t too bad at all.  There were a few stolen cars brought into the district in the early hours of New Year’s Day, but on the whole, there has been an improvement.”

West Belfast Area Commander, Chief Inspector Emma Bond, said local police officers carried out extensive patrolling in the area over the festive period.

“We continue to listen to the concerns of the local community and are working hard to make a difference in the area,” she added.  “Operation Echinus has been extended and will continue to operate until March so if you have any issues or concerns about any criminal activity, please do not hesitate to contact the police.”

Anyone with any concerns or issues can contact police at Grosvenor Road station on 0845 600 8000 or you can email your local neighbourhood policing team – they’re on


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