29 December 2005

North: Victim's group in plea over joyriding


29/12/2005 - 11:43:44

A victims’ group which has campaigned to take joyriders off the roads warned the authorities in the North today: Now it’s your turn.

The west Belfast-based Families Bereaved Through Car Crime revealed it plans to take a step back and scrutinise the proposed new councils’ efforts to end the menace.

Spokesman Tommy Holland said: “The families have achieved so much, like getting the police auto-crime team set up, but they are only ordinary people.

“Now we’re passing over the baton. It’s down to these seven super-councils, education and health boards.

“We believe if everybody works together, they can create an environment that will eventually end joyriding, creeper burglaries and ram-raids.”

Since it was set up three years ago, the group, made up of 10 families that have lost 11 relatives to the scourge, has lobbied tirelessly for tougher sentences and a police crackdown.

It has also established links with others in Derry where car thieves also go on the rampage.

More than 50 people have been killed by so-called joyriders in the last 20 years, with most deaths occurring in west Belfast, according to Mr Holland.

More than 2,000 people have also been injured, including many who have lost limbs and suffered brain damage.

The continued threat from vehicle thieves has forced up car insurance in the area.

“It’s gone sky-high, and shows that apart from the tragedies, this is hurting the economy as well,” Mr Holland said.

But next year the focus will switch to district council community safety teams, he said.

“We have asked Belfast City Council to bring together a working body from all the councils.

“We will be watching and if, as they claim, this is a big priority, then they should get on with it.

“The families will keep lobbying, but the politicians and super-councils need to step up. Let’s see how they do the job.

“We are throwing down the gauntlet.”

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