Page last updated at 09:15 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 10:15 UK

PSNI in U-turn on west Belfast car crime move

Families Bereaved Through Car Crime
Campaigners fought to keep the Auto Crime Unit

Police have reversed their decision to shut down a dedicated car crime police unit in west Belfast.

If follows protests from the victims' group, Families Bereaved through Car Crime who fear more people could be killed by 'joyriders'.

Last week, police said Auto Crime Unit members would be moved to other duties.

However, in a statement on Wednesday, the PSNI said the unit would remain in place until at least December when a full review would be carried out.

Police said they would work with the community to consider the best way forward.

"Officers are fully committed to continually refocusing and improving the service in the greater west Belfast area and effectively addressing all criminality and the concerns of the community," the statement said.

Families Bereaved Through Car Crime, based in west Belfast, had called for the unit to be restored before someone else was killed by 'joyriders'.

Margaret Muir, whose brother, Patrick Hanna, was killed after being struck by a stolen car, helped found the west Belfast campaign group.

She said: "The phones started ringing and have been ringing non-stop. People want to know who to call.

"There was a stolen car in my street two nights ago and there was no-one to ring about it. From last Thursday, there have been two incidents."

Mrs Muir said people were frightened that someone else might be killed on the streets by car thieves racing stolen cars.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the PSNI u-turn was "a positive development".

"It is evidence of the merits of the PSNI and community groups engaging on policing issues," he said.

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