Incidents of violent or sexual offences are happening at a rate of more than one a week in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area, it has been revealed.
PSNI figures for 2018/19 show 74 such incidents - the highest in NI outside Belfast.
DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said that the number of violent or sexual offences involving knives or sharp instruments ‘is still too high’.
She said: “ Only the Belfast area had more incidents noted and whilst this is a decline on the previous year, which had 93, I am still concerned about the numbers.
“I commend the police for the reduction in the last year and urge them to continue the great work they do in keeping us safe.
“There are always those in society who are intent on carrying out criminal deeds and we need to see more done to prevent and stamp out this type of behaviour. The 74 figure for 2018/19 is more than one a week and this needs reduced and wiped out.
“The figure is still too high and we want people to feel safe and not have to worry about these type of violent crimes. The onus is also on our judiciary to be a deterrent by handing down sentences that reflect the seriousness of these offences. It makes the police officers see the results of their hard work bringing these offenders to justice.”
District Commander Superintendent Wendy Middleton said: “The most recent figures for Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon show there has been a reduction in incidents from the year 2017/18 to 2018/19, and while any drop in crime is to be welcomed, one incident involving a knife is one too many.
“The consequence of carrying or using a knife can be devastating, often with life taking and life-changing consequences.
“Our officers in the district continue to work in a range of ways to reduce knife crime and raise awareness of the dangers involved in knife use. Part of our work involves visit to local schools, warning of the dangers of knives and the implications for future careers and travel prospects.
“Our neighbourhood policing teams also continue to work with local organisations to raise awareness about the dangers of knife crime.
“However, the issue of knives is not just a policing one, but it is one that police are left to deal with, and sometimes with the terrible consequences of when a knife has been used.
“The whole community must work together to deal with this issue to reinforce the messages that knives are illegal, don’t carry them; they take lives. That is why focus has to continue on educational and awareness work alongside any necessary police actions and activity.
“I want to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who has information about knife crime or concerns about knife crime to call us.”