North Antrim MLA Robin Swann has called on communities throughout the constituency, especially those in rural areas, “to form a network of neighbourhood watches to combat vandalism, anti-social behaviour and other crimes”.
Mr issued his appeal in the wake of a number of thefts from local farms and the recent arson attack on a bus at Dervock Orange Hall, which was used by the community and not just the local band.
He said: “Everyone in the constituency can have the opportunity to play a role in combatting the scourge of rural and urban crime by getting involved with, or setting up a local neighbourhood watch which have the full support and approval of the PSNI.
“Neighbourhood watches provide a very useful service in supporting the PSNI and I fully encourage constituents to get involved with these schemes to help protect their communities from criminals and those who indulge in anti-social behaviour.
“I also commend those neighbourhood watches which currently exist throughout the constituency and praise their sterling efforts to make North Antrim a safer place to live and work,” said Assemblyman Swann.
Meanwhile, Mr Swann has challenged the Stormont Executive “to join forces, step up a gear and implement a radical and urgent crackdown on the scourge of rural crime”.
He issued his call as he expressed his “tremendous disappointment” in recent rural crime figures released by NFU Mutual.
He said: “Despite the recent announcements that rural crime was decreasing, these figures show that it has actually increased to a cost of £2.7 million to our rural communities.
“It is also surprising to note that for the same period rural crime in Scotland is significantly lower at £1.7 million.
“So despite recent reassurances that the ongoing fight against rural crime was succeeding it is now obvious it clearly isn’t, and our Justice and Agriculture Ministers must take adequate and sustainable measures to ensure this scourge and additional financial drain are removed from our rural communities.
“Significantly, cattle rustling is still high on the list of rural crime, but NFU Mutual’s report shows a significant increase in the number of pigs stolen in the past year.
“I have previously raised concerns about an underground meat trade where this livestock is being disposed of, and in these cases more must be done,” warned Assemblyman Swann.