Almost one assault reported each day in district

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AN assault has been reported almost every day in the district in the past five years, figures released to the Leader show.

On average since 2007 there have been 342 assaults each year, with just a third of those incidents seeing people ever caught or charged.

This year to date 69 people have been arrested in relation to assaults, with 45 being charged - a 36.6 per cent detection rate for violent crime in the area.

In recent months a number of vicious assaults have taken place in Banbridge itself, including two separate incidents in August where a 15-year-old boy was punched in the face in a daylight attack, and another in which a 57-year-old man was struck in the face with a golf club after being asked for a cigarette lighter.

Earlier this year two weekend assaults took place in the town within half an hour of each other, both involving two male victims being beaten up by gangs of other men.

No arrests have been made in any of those incidents.

But the number of people arrested or charged for assault has risen since 2007, with the detection rate going from just under a quarter to almost 40 per cent this year.

And the number of people considered for prosecution in Banbridge Magistrates’ Court on the issue has risen from just six in 2007 to 86 last year.

The latest figures come on the back of statistics showing that almost 200 people have been convicted for the offence of assault in the local court in the past five years.

The area’s District Judge Paul Copeland spoke out on the subject after convicting a 22-year-old for punching someone in the face in what was accepted to be an unprovoked attack in Church Square on July 12 this year.

After fining the defendant £500 last month Mr Copeland said, “This casual thuggery at the end of an evening’s drinking is all too common on the streets of Banbridge.”