POLICE in Omagh will be focusing attention on a number of 'hotspots' following an increase in the number of anti-social behaviour incidents over the summer months.
Between April and the end of August in 2005, 627 anti-social incidents
were recorded in the Omagh District Command Unit (DCU). However, that increased to 1,170 for the same period this year.
Supt Michael Skuce, the DCU, commander said police would be taking pro-active steps in the coming months.
"Traditionally, the number of incidents increases during the school summer holidays,
and we can expect to see the figures drop now that the schools have gone back.
"The statistics do suggest a big increase, but that can in part be explained by changes in the way we record figures. In fact, the trend is very similar to other years."
An analysis of the figures has identified a number of hotspots, Supt Skuce said. These include Tamlaght Road, Hospital Road, Lisanelly and the town centre in Omagh; as well as Fintona.
He added, "We have identified key times and will be increasing our high-visibility patrolling.
"Many of the offences are being committed by a small number of young people and we will be looking seriously at Anti-Social Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) and Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (Asbos).
"We want to work with schools and youth groups to get the message out directly to young people that this behaviour causes annoyance to the community will not be tolerated.
"What may seem like high spirits and 'fun' to young people can cause misery to others.
"The message is 'don't do it'. We would rather young people learned this message, but we will not shirk from our duty to enforce the laws.
"An Asbo is not the kind of baggage to carry around when you leave school and start looking for your first job."
Incidents of criminal damage and theft have also shown and increase in the first five months of the financial year" Supt Skuce said.
The criminal damage figures rose to 322, compared with 247 for the same period in 2005, while thefts rose to 178 from 119.
"These rising trends will also be the subject of increased police attention. This will include high-visibility policing and the continuation of the Operation Nightlife initiative.
"We will also be proactive in gathering evidence and keeping stringent bail checks on identified offenders."
Supt Skuce said that not all offences had increased.
He said, "Between April and the end of August this year we had reports of 70 burglaries, compared with 88 for the same period in 2005. The number of offences against the person - mainly assaults - also showed a decrease, from 389 to 277. I am conscious, though, that this is of little comfort to the victims.
"After several successive years of falling crime rates, we had an increase last year, and a continuing upward trend so far this year. The figures we have gathered will assist us in managing our current operations and plans, and in reallocating resources and efforts according to the changing needs and issues.
"We know what we have to do, but I am also asking people in the area to be conscious of crime and the steps they can take to reduce the chances of becoming victims.
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