OVERALL crime in South Belfast is on the rise, with the constituency remaining the crime capital of the North.

The PSNI’s most up-to-date figures show that the total number of criminal offences recorded by police from September 2010 to the end of August this year was 11,528, an overall rise of 51 crimes from the previous year. This is the highest total for any area in Northern Ireland, and the shocking sum is over 4,000 incidents more than the second highest area in the city, North Belfast. Incidents of criminal damage are the highest of all crimes recorded here, with 1,873 over the last year, although this is a slight decrease from the previous 12 months.

Violent incidents involving injured victims are up significantly, while sexual offences are also rising, with 156 incidents – the highest in Belfast.

However, in the Castlereagh area crime has fallen, with a total of 255 less overall incidents in 2010/11. Once again, criminal damage is the most prevalent offence, although this has fallen by 155. Only theft has risen significantly here, by 33 incidents over the year.

Local MLA Jimmy Spratt said the latest stats were “concerning” and called upon the PSNI to end the “nine-to-five” culture in the force, as most of South Belfast’s crimes would likely take place at night.

“It’s concerning to see these figures, especially with the likes of sexual assaults rising,” he told the South Belfast News.

“Until we start seeing more police actually on the beat rather than behind desks, crime will inevitably continue to rise. Unfortunately there seems to be a bit of a nine-to-five culture within the service, which they have yet to tackle in order to make the PSNI more able to tackle crime after hours, when it occurs in South Belfast the most.”