DESPITE nearly 2,000 validated incidents of people being forced from their homes in Northern Ireland due to housing intimidation in the past five years, just 32 convictions have been secured.
Belfast based investigative website Detail Data has also found that the issue of housing intimidation has cost the Housing Executive more than £7.5million since 2012.
Information on where the majority of incidents have taken place suggests the involvement of loyalist paramilitaries.
Despite the number of incidents, the financial cost and the serious risk presented to victims, the PSNI has said it does not record housing intimidation in its own right, rather including it in an overarching category encompassing all forms of intimidation offences.
Detail Data was, however, able to use data from the Housing Executive and the Courts Service to reveal:
- Between 2012/13 and 2016/17 the Housing Executive spent £6,709,430 buying 57 houses from homeowners forced out of their property as a result of paramilitary, sectarian, racist, sexual orientation and disability related intimidation.
- The Housing Executive also paid out £808,174 in Emergency Grant Payments to over 1,000 householders who had to move from their rented homes due to intimidation during this five-year period.
- During the period, a total of 2,060 incidents of housing intimidation were accepted by the Housing Executive.
- A sample of data from the past two years also showed that the overwhelming majority of incidents were recorded in Belfast, Lisburn & Castlereagh, Ards & North Down and the Antrim & Newtownabbey council areas. A more detailed breakdown (eg by postcode, town) is not available.
- Court figures reveal that 32 convictions were secured for the offence of ‘intimidation - causing person to leave residence/occupation’ between 2011 and 2016.
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