Proving burglary “difficult” say police

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POLICE have assured the District Policing Partnership they are doing all they can to tackle burglary, but proving cases, they say, is “incredibly difficult”.

Area Commander, Chief Inspector Ken Mawhinney, addressed the issue upon being quizzed by the District Policing Partnership’s Stephen Moreland at last week’s public meeting.

Despite a marked decrease in burglaries, Mr. Moreland wanted to know if police had any strategies for further reducing the number of unresolved cases.

Mr. Mawhinney pointed out that the number of burglaries was low and said police pursued a range of strategies, targeting offenders rather than targeting crimes, but in his 25 years on the police, he said, the clearance rate has always hovered at around 10/12 per cent.

A lot of burglaries were taking place not at night, he said, but during the day when people were at work; they returned home to discover the burglary and it meant that by the time it was reported to police the culprits were long gone.

Criminals had also become more forensically aware, he said; very few left DNA behind and most wore gloves. Even the presence of fingerprints had to be measured against the fact that police did not hold fingerprints for everyone in the country, he added, but only those who were already in the system.

Television’s CSI was not the real world, he said.

The Chief Inspector did stress that where fingerprints or DNA were discovered but unmatched they were held by police for possible future use.

He also emphasised the importance of Neighbourhood Watch schemes; public vigilance and reporting of any suspicious vehicles or behaviour was vital in the battle against the burglar.

“Be assured we do everything we can,” he said, “and the figures are low; as regards Banbridge I’d say some of the lowest in the Province.”