15,000 vehicles stopped at checkpoints

15,000 vehicles stopped at checkpoints

Police have said over 15,000 vehicles were stopped at PSNI checkpoints in the Belfast area over the festive period.

In the run up to Christmas, police significantly increased security around the city centre and in other towns.The move came after dissident republicans attempted an attack on an underground car park in one of the city's main shopping centres by means of a 130lb proxy car bomb.Following the incident police operated vehicle checkpoints across the city in a bid to deter further attacks.The PSNI has revealed that between 25 November and 15 January approximately 1,670 vehicle checkpoints were put in place in what police described as "hot-spot" areas to "prevent crime and reassure shoppers, revellers and motorists".They said 15,234 vehicles were stopped and 1,598 of them searched.Police officers were also on foot and on bikes throughout the city centre in support of businesses and to police the night-time economy.Although there were large numbers of people visiting the city during the day and in the evenings to shop and socialise, we had a relatively low number of arrests for offences such as disorderly behaviour, just three arrests, or assault, just one arrest.Chief Inspector Gabriel MoranBetween 2 December and 5 January, 24 people were arrested, 13 of these arrests were for theft with the remainder relating to a range of other offences.A further 18 people were reported to the Public Prosecution Service, 47 fixed penalty notices were issued and 236 motorists were "given advice", the police said.Almost 1,500 visits were also made to businesses.Commenting on the policing operation, area commander for south Belfast, Chief Inspector Gabriel Moran said: "I would like to thank everyone who took on board the advice that was given out prior to Christmas to remain vigilant, to stay together when out socialising and to get home safe."A further 23 people were dealt with by way of discretionary disposal which is used to deal with minor crimes, such as begging and certain road traffic offences."While discretionary disposal is not a criminal conviction it ensures a faster outcome for the victim."As we enter a new year police will continue to take a proactive approach to tackling crime in Belfast city centre."

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