HC Deb 29 March 2001 vol 365 cc748-9W
Mr. Pond

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to reduce crime in Northern Ireland. [156481]

Mr. Ingram

A number of significant steps have recently been taken to reduce crime in Northern Ireland, including my announcements last week of a strategy to tackle organised crime, a small business security grant scheme available from early April, and the introduction of Banknote Watch, an initiative aimed at providing enhanced security for the cash-in-transit industry.

In addition, I have now decided to introduce specific crime reduction targets to address volume crime in Northern Ireland. After careful consideration I have set the following three targets to be achieved over a five year period: 15 per cent. reduction in domestic burglary; a 10 per cent. reduction in vehicle thefts; and a 10 per cent. reduction in theft from vehicles.

Baselines will be set during 2001–02 and the reductions sought over the following five years. The Government are committed over the same period to achieving a reduction in the rate of increase of overall crime.

These targets are tailored to the specific circumstances of Northern Ireland. Research has indicated that these crimes, which between them account for over 20 per cent. of all recorded crime, are the crimes of greatest concern to the general public.

These targets will not be for the police alone to deliver. Experience has shown that the most effective way to tackle crime is for agencies to come together in a partnership-based approach. We shall be discussing with the First and Deputy First Ministers how the necessary partnerships might best be delivered.

While Northern Ireland has experienced a relatively low rate of crime compared to other jurisdictions, this initiative demonstrates that the Government are not complacent and that we continue to take the steps necessary to tackle this issue. Crime and the fear of crime affect everyone's quality of life and must be addressed in a robust and effective way.