JUSTICE Minister David Ford has allocated almost £564,000 to projects aimed at tackling crime and the fear of crime.
The money comes from assets seized from criminals.
It will fund a number of projects including programmes to reduce anti-social behaviour, to help older people feel safer and to support victims of domestic violence.
It will also support initiatives to prevent rural crime and to educate young people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
David Ford said: “Assets gained through crime should not remain in the hands of organised criminal gangs who have abused communities and do not care about the impact of their actions.
“I praise the work of law enforcement agencies and the Public Prosecution Service in removing this money, which otherwise could put drugs on our streets or support human trafficking.
“I am pleased to see such money being reinvested into communities and to people working on the ground to make Northern Ireland safer.
“£564,000 has been directed to a broad range of projects.
“From supporting victims of domestic violence, to providing diversionary activities for young people and helping to make older people feel safer in their homes, each of the projects have the common aim of making Northern Ireland a safer place for everyone.”
Outlining a few of the projects funded this year, the Minister said:” I had the privilege of seeing the Cage Soccer initiative in action at Parliament Buildings last year.
“It is an excellent youth diversionary project. This year’s Asset Recovery Community Scheme helped the initiative grow into a spectacular tournament on Benone Beach on 9 March.
“I want to pay tribute to Limavady PCSP for developing, managing and delivering this tournament.
“I particularly welcome the involvement of a number of PCSPs in the local area. I am keen to see PCSPs work together where possible, by sharing ideas, experiences and best practice, to help build a safer community for everyone.”
Another project funded through the scheme is ‘Building Bridges Across the Age Divide’. Led by the Cregagh Community Association and supported by the Castlereagh Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) the project aims to develop connections between the older and younger generations in the area to help address perceptions and build relationships.
David Ford said: “Northern Ireland’s Community Safety Strategy recognises the importance of intergenerational approaches to building safer, shared and confident communities and research has shown the approach can be a cornerstone in reducing crime and the fear of crime.
“I want to praise the Cregagh Community Association and the PCSP for delivering this excellent project. By engaging both the young and young at heart, such work helps neighbours to share experiences, gain a greater understanding of one another and help to build respect and trust.”