Police response to Crossmaglen robberies criticised

August 19, 2013

A 6 hour delay by police in responding to a call regarding two house robberies in the Crossmaglen area has been heavily criticised.   Despite the quick thinking actions of the burglary victims who had noted the make, description and registration of the perpetrators’ getaway vehicle, the culprits escaped the area after being monitored by locals for some time.

At approximately 10.30am last Thursday morning, Sinn Féin councillor Terry Hearty made the call to police after arriving on the scene of one of the incidents within minutes of being alerted to it.

Mr Hearty said,

“Very soon after I had spoken to the victims, I contacted the PSNI and informed them that local people had recorded the registration of the vehicle used in the robberies and that this vehicle was still in the locality and was being monitored by members of the community.

“The police unfortunately did not have any available officers to follow this up and the perpetrators made good their escape.  In addition it was 5.00pm before the police visited the victims of this crime.”

In the meantime, members of the community took the initiative of contacting a local news site to issue a warning that a 4 to 5 man gang travelling in a southern registration silver FR Leon with alloy wheels and tinted windows were still at large in the area, after carrying out two robberies in Crossmaglen and Dorsey.

Councillor Hearty stated that while he understood the different pressures on police resources he would not accept a second rate service for the people of Crossmaglen.

The Sinn Fein Councillor, who is a member of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership said he feared that such unacceptable response times may deter people from reporting criminal activities to the police.

“The police must make a better effort to build the confidence of local communities in them.  The PSNI repeatedly talk of providing a community policing service but I didn’t see evidence of it in this case” said Mr Hearty.

“There were recent reports of a great outcome in Mullaghbawn when members of the community worked alongside the police to foil a robbery.  I want to encourage local people to keep liaising with the police and I hope that their lack of response on this occasion does not jeopardise that.

“I hope that the victims of these crimes are not too traumatised by their ordeal and I urge people to remain vigilant to suspicious activity.”

A police spokesperson told The Examiner that police in south Armagh were investigating reports of two burglaries in the Donaldson’s Road and Blaney Road areas of Crossmaglen on the morning of Thursday 15th August.

The spokesperson continued,

“After receiving the initial report, a police patrol responded in an attempt to intercept a suspicious vehicle in the area. The vehicle was not located at this time and enquires are on-going to identify the vehicle and occupants.

“Having patrolled the immediate area for a period of time and being satisfied further premises were not being targeted by criminals, police attended the scenes of the burglaries and conducted forensic examinations.

“A thorough investigation is on-going. Police in south Armagh remain committed to delivering a personal, professional and protective service to members of the local community. Police would appeal to anyone with any information to contact them in Crossmaglen on 0845 600 8000.”