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A new multi-agency approach to tackling crime and the fear of crime has been launched by the PSNI’s University sector Neighbourhood Policing Team.

Local police officers have joined forces with other statutory and community representatives to carry out Community Watch crime surveys in the area in a bid to assess problems such as anti-social behaviour, underage drinking, derelict properties, vandalism, drug abuse and environmental issues. A major aim of the initiative is crime prevention, with local crime prevention officer Stuart Gibson offering advice to householders and business owners about securing their property against criminals.

A pilot project began in Whiteabbey on Thursday, February 27, with similar surveys due to be carried out in other areas within the University sector in the coming weeks.

The results of each survey will be collated and discussed, following which an action plan will be drawn up aimed at targeting issues and problems specific to each location.

The woman leading the initiative, Sergeant Sharon Wishart, says the aim of the project is to make the area safer for residents and a nicer place to live.

“The local PCSP (Policing and Community Safety Partnership), the Housing Executive, the park wardens (Newtownabbey Borough Council), local councillors, community representatives and the Youth Justice Agency agreed to come on board to come into the area with us to look at issues of concern, not just from a police perspective, to come back together to see what we can do collectively and draw up an action plan to hopefully make the community a better place for residents to live in, and hopefully reduce crime and the fear of crime. Other issues of concern will be taken on board by the partner agencies to hopefully improve the standard of life for residents in the area.”

Margaret King, chairperson of Whiteabbey Community Group, believes the initiative will be of benefit to the local area.

“I think it’s a very good idea to bring together all the agencies to deal with anything that’s going on in the area - things like anti-social behaviour or housing issues. It will make it a better place to live in the long run.”

Sergeant Wishart is hopeful that if the pilot in the University sector proves successful, the project will be extended into other areas across the borough.

“We will run it within the University sector and we will then bring it to our authorities’ attention and hopefully it will be rolled out within the Newtownabbey area,” she added.

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