Police in Banbridge have welcomed a drop in assault incidents and attribute it to their use of discretion and proactive presence, particularly at pub and club closing time in the town.
Inspector Nigel Graham of Banbridge Neighbourhood and Response was speaking during one of the phased deployments that patrol Banbridge nightlife at weekends.
“We have noticed assaults are down by about 15%,” he said. “Much of this could be down to using discretion and penalty notices for disorder.”
Inspector Graham believes this approach is paying off and their priority is to work with young people so they don’t end up with a criminal record.
“It’s a good thing because it means more people are getting second chances.
“Generally for a small misdemeanour a lot of it can be high spirits and everyone makes mistakes, so if they are willing to apologise, sort out whatever minor damage they’ve caused and say they are sorry to the officers - sometimes that is enough. We’re happy to use discretion.
“Nothing is to be gained by us prosecuting for minor things. It doesn’t build confidence in what we do - we’re here to protect people, not pick on them.”
The Banbridge PSNI focus for June has been tackling anti-social behaviour, something which the spell of good weather, events such as BuskFest and end of term celebrations can aggravate.
“June has seen around 900 people in places such as the Belmont.
Inspector Nigel Graham concluded: “We believe that engagement and a visible presence around night time economy hours is having a positive effect on the number of assault and disorder incidents in Banbridge town.
“We have been working closely with licensees, event organisers and Banbridge PCSP to educate our young people and to ensure Banbridge is a safe place for everyone during night time economy hours.”