District Commander gives insight into the work of Lisburn police
Lisburn Police Chief, District Commander Superintendent Julie Mullan, has spoken with the Ulster Star this week about some of the key issues the police are dealing with across the city.
From anti-social behaviour and drug-related crime to burglaries and domestic violence, the police are working hard on issues that are of greatest concern to the local community.
“There are three over-arching themes in the local policing plan,” explained Superintendent Mullan.
“Safer community, confidence in policing, and engaging with and supporting the community.”
Within those three themes are the main issues the police work on, on a daily basis. However, Superintendent Mullan admitted “priorities will probably change as crime trends develop.”
Under the heading of ‘Safer community’, the police are tackling issues which are of a real concern to local residents and which can lead to an increase in the fear of crime in the city.
”Burglary is still a real concern,” explained Superintendent Mullan. “Although there are fewer victims of burglary, it is a crime that can have a great impact on people.”
The police in Lisburn are also determined to reduce the number of repeat offenders in the city and have a team dedicated to monitoring repeat offenders who live in the city.
“We have a specific department that tackles prolific offenders by engaging with them and robustly tackling them,” Superintendent Mullan said. “Repeat offenders get a dedicated police officer who manages their bail conditions. They get extra attention to try to stop them reoffending.”
One of the main tasks for the police is Lisburn is to make sure people in the community feel safe, which means implementing a plan of action to deal with two of the most challenging issues - anti-social behaviour and drugs.
“Anti-social behaviour and drugs are a huge issue,” admitted Superintendent Mullan, “People have a perception on how it impacts them. There is a fear of it and how it makes people feel in their own homes.
“Over the last year we have had real concerns over the amount of drugs on our streets and it is important that people know that action is being taken.
“Drugs seizures are up but they are up because we are doing more seizures and it is good for us that we are seizing more drugs. We are being very proactive.
“Drug detections are up and we see that as a good thing. With most crime figures we want to see them going down but with drugs it is good news that we are getting them off the streets.”
Anti-social behaviour has been of increasing concern in Lisburn in recent months, with fires at Hilden Mill causing alarm. At the beginning of June, Chief Inspector Jonathan Wilson, who is part of the community engagement team in Lisburn, told the Star that there has been a spike in anti-social behaviour over the last year.
Following yet another incident at Hilden Mill, Superintendent Mullan agreed that it was a big concern: “Anti-social behaviour and speeding are two main things that come up frequently at public meetings.”
The police in Lisburn work in partnership with a number of agencies to address the issue of anti-social behaviour in the city. With Covid restrictions now beginning to ease, diversionary activities will begin to start up again, with the police engaging particularly with young people over the matter.
Community engagement is of huge importance to the police and is particularly important when it comes to reporting crimes in the city. “People in Lisburn and Castlereagh are generally very keen to deal with the police,” said Superintendent Mullan. “There is a positive story around the establishment of Neighbourhood Watch schemes and we are always keen in increase that. We have a Crime Prevention Officer based in Lisburn station who is really active and she has set up a number of Neighbourhood Watch schemes.”
With large parts of Lisburn and Castlereagh falling into the rural area, rural crime is also an issue for Lisburn police, who recently held an event for farmers to find out more about installing tracking devices on their equipment. “There hasn’t been a huge surge in rural crime but it is of concern to that community and can really have a big impact on the business,” said Superintendent Mullan. ”There are not a huge number of thefts but we like to work closely with the rural community.”
Lisburn has, over the years, had a reputation for having high levels of domestic violence and that is something the police continue to address:
“With Covid lockdown there has been an increase in incidents,” said Superintendent Mullan. “It is hard to find the root cause but we do have a dedicated Women’s Aid worker in the station and she has been working hard for a number of years to deal directly with the victims.”
Superintendent Mullan admitted that Covid has had an impact on the police’s community engagement activities over the last year but is looking forward to stepping up activities once again now that the restrictions are beginning to ease. “Community engagement has been reduced during Covid-19 as it hasn’t been possible to meet face to face - but we have adapted,” she continued.
“Neighbourhood Watch meetings were held over Zoom and we have tried to engage with the public as much as possible, although the restrictions have limited us.
“The community engagement has continued but in a different format. We have already started increasing engagements and engaging with the community face to face. We had Covid teams in place who had a higher level of protection on them and our day to day business continued as normal.”
Whilst the main issues such as anti-social behaviour, burglary and drugs remain high on the agenda for the police in Lisburn, they do adapt and change to meet the crime trends and requirements of the community. “Different things come and go throughout the year and we address those as they develop,” continued Superintendent Mullan. “The policing plan is an over-arching thematic priority but we will react and put resources in place where needed. For example, there has been an increase in theft at buildings. That has increased over the last few months so we engage directly with the building sites and increase patrols.
“We have daily and weekly meetings to look at the crime trends and put plans in place around those.”
The police in Lisburn would like the local community to know that they are working tirelessly to keep everyone safe and are always keen to hear from residents who have concerns around particular issues in the city.
Superintendent Mullan said she would encourage people to attend the public meetings of the local Policing and Community Safety Partnership. The PCSP has a Policing Committee to take forward specific police monitoring and engagement functions, with the wider PCSP taking forward community safety related functions. Public meetings of the PSCP are advertised online.
In conclusion, Superintendent Julie Mullan reassured the people of Lisburn about the continued commitment of the police to tackle crime in the city:
“It is a privilege to serve the people of Lisburn and Castlereagh and as a policing team we are committed to working with all members of our community to keep everyone safe,” she said.
“Our focus is on preventing crime and engaging with the public on the issues that matter and we work closely with a range of partners to provide a responsive and effective service to the public. I look forward to sharing more about the work we are doing right across our district to prevent and detect crime and provide the public with a greater insight into how our officers and staff are here to keep you and your families safe.”
To find out more visit: lisburncastlereagh.gov.uk/resident/policing-and-community-safety-partnership.