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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Police express concerns over high level of domestic violence in Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough

PSNI hat and uniform

The PSNI District Commander of Antrim and Newtownabbey has expressed concern over the “high” level of domestic violence in the borough.


Speaking at a public meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Policing and Community Safety Partnership, in Ballyclare Town Hall, on Thursday evening, Superintendent Darren Fox said police want to “protect victims and get the best outcomes”.


He also reported “quite a bit of demand” in relation to “mental health and vulnerabilities”.



During a recent 12-month period, from the end of January 2023 until January 28, 2024, police in the district received 600 concern for safety calls and reports of 417 domestic incidents.


The Women’s Aid charity was invited into Antrim and Newtownabbey police stations in December to deliver presentations to front line officers regarding the impact of domestic violence. Officers are also being given training in all new domestic violence, stalking and harassment legislation.


The PSNI is also raising awareness around domestic violence and violence against women and girls by delivering presentations to groups such as Greenmount College students, church groups, at community centres, libraries and a stand at Antrim Hospital.



Road safety is also a priority in the district. During the last 12 months, 1,011 fixed penalty notices were issued for a range of motoring offences including  speeding, 529; careless driving, 121; no insurance, 58; no seatbelt, 29; breach of signals and signs, 12.


Of the 29,279 recordings by a speed indication device (SID) at Hillhead Road, Ballyclare, the average vehicle speed was 35mph with 85 per cent travelling at 40mph or lower and 210 above 50 mph.


The superintendent went on to discuss drugs in the area which he said are “!inked to so many crimes” and, in particular, “paramilitary crime”.



The meeting was told police have carried out more than 18 searches of premises for drugs during the past year in the district and have carried out 365 stop and searches, “disrupted” an alleged facility manufacturing what police believe to be “cannabis edible” products and in other operations, seizures included £30,000 worth of herbal cannabis, £12,000 worth of mixed drugs and 300 MDMA tablets.


Burglary was also highlighted at the meeting.  Recently, there were three arrests for a series of burglaries in Antrim during December and a further three arrests for burglaries in Antrim and Belfast in January.


Supt Fox also reported shoplifting incidents are taking place in relation to the cost of living crisis.



Projects to tackle anti-social behaviour were also highlighted at the meeting. There were 2,770 incidents in the district reported to police between February 18, 2023 and February 17, 2024, a reduction from 3022, during the previous 12-month period.


“Addressing anti-social behaviour continues to be a priority for Antrim and Newtownabbey District. As a police service, we want all residents with the Antrim and Newtownabbey area to feel safe in their home and when out and about in the area in which they live.


“We recognise that not all anti-social behaviour is a police issue which is why we work in partnership with out statutory and voluntary organisations in order to effectively address the issue.


“We continue to engage at a grassroots level with local schools and regularly give talks in relation to ASB, the impact it has on local communities and the consequences of becoming involved in the criminal justice system.



“At key times of the year, we look to plan ahead and have officers briefed on where communities are telling us the issues are and look to provide additional resourcing at peak times such as Halloween and school holiday periods.”


Officers were told of anti-social behaviour taking place in the vicinity of Ballyclare Town Hall.


A town centre resident told police about cars speeding around the town centre until 1.00am, cars doing “doughnut” manoeuvres and sliding sideways down Main Street. They were also told of a motorist whose car was apparently “drifting round The Square for half an hour”.


The inspector said this type of issue is “not unique to Ballyclare” but taking place across the province.



A residents’ group representative from Ballynure said there is a “similar problem” in the village with “boy and girl racers congregating every night”.


Dunsilly Ulster Unionist Councillor Stewart Wilson asked how the local community can support the police.


Chief Inspector Rory Bradley said:


“The message we are trying to get across is that we need you to report whatever it is that is causing grief. We can build a bigger picture of what is going on around the district. It is evidence based.”


He also noted: “Seventy to 80 per cent of calls are about some form of vulnerability.”


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