SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly has expressed significant concerns after it emerged crimes against children have risen above forecasted levels.
Between April and October 2021 crimes against children accounted for 10% of all recorded crime in the North.
Mrs Kelly welcomed efforts from the PSNI to review how they engage and support children, young people and their families.
Upper Bann MLA Mrs Kelly said:
“It was extremely concerning to learn that crimes against children are rising at a level higher than even predicted, making up 10% of all crimes recorded across the North in a seven-month period. We have seen a renewed focus on crimes against children in the media recently with some extremely harrowing tales coming to light and it’s important that we recognise and tackle these issues before we have a similar tragedy on our own doorsteps.
“We have seen the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on our crime statistics. More people have been forced indoors and to spend time with their families. While this has been a welcome chance to connect for many of us, for those in abusive relationships or in a difficult family environment it has put them at significant risk, including children.
“I welcome attempts from the PSNI to address these issues, including a revised strategy for interacting with children and a young people, a schools survey in partnership with the Education Authority and the delivery of Operation Encompass which will provide school based support to children experiencing domestic abuse.
“It is important that our police and social services stand ready to intervene when concerns are raised around the welfare of a child. No one should look away if they suspect abuse or neglect, we can all play a part in keeping children safe and lowering these awful statistics.”