THE PSNI have defended their “visibility” record on the Lisburn Road, following the latest armed robbery in which shop staff were threatened with a knife. Traders have called for more foot patrols to curb the number of shop robberies on the road, following the recent incident, in which a Co-Op store was raided.
Staff were left shaken by the robbery last Tuesday, June 5, when a man entered the premises on the lower Lisburn Road at the junction with Donnybrook Street at around 6.30pm.
After threatening staff with a blade, the culprit made off with a sum of cash. Police have appealed for anyone with information to come forward.
Last year, a swathe of robberies all along the road left traders criticising the police, despite the main South Belfast station situated on the Lisburn Road itself.
Following last week’s disturbing incident, the Chair of the Lisburn Road Business Association, Peter Carrington said: “What we need is more visible foot patrols by officers as unfortunately, the Lisburn Road is very susceptible to this type of crime,” he said.
“There are plenty of escape routes, and we have regularly seen the area taken advantage of by people willing to prey on hard-working businessmen and women, and sadly, get away with it. I think if we could actually see officers walking about and not just entering shops and takeaways for their own needs, then these people might not be so keen to try and rob our stores, which are struggling enough with problems as it is.”
However, a PSNI spokesman insisted the road is regularly patrolled by cops, and said the South Belfast Area Commander has even been out on foot in recent weeks to patrol the area himself.
“Police officers arrived at the premises one minute and 30 seconds after the call was made,” he said, although no arrests were made.
“A further police call sign was assigned 30 seconds later and arrived within three minutes of the original call. Investigations into the incident at the premises are ongoing. As June 5 was a bank holiday and in anticipation of larger numbers of individuals relaxing and socializing, additional officers were on duty to increase police visibility across South and East Belfast.
“The Lisburn Road area is regularly patrolled by police and on June 4, the Chief Inspector and Area Commander for South Belfast joined officers, as they conducted high visibility patrols on the main Lisburn Road.”