Northern Ireland

Get tough call on NI cash delivery van robbers

Punishments should be much tougher for armed robbers who target cash transit vans, the owner of one van company has said.

He was speaking after four cash delivery vans were attacked in the past four days in Belfast.

No-one was seriously injured. But the thieves threatened drivers with guns and knives.

The owner said he had written to Justice Minister David Ford calling for tougher measures against the robbers.

"At this time of year, we would probably be more vigilant as you would expect a bit of a spike. To have four armed robberies in four days is not usual," the owner, who did not want to be identified, said.

"I have to say that I think the industry and the police are let down by the judiciary. The sentencing is lenient.

"It is very concerning to us as a business and as an industry. The guys (staff) put themselves out there at the sharp edge on a daily basis, they are very courageous, very highly-trained individuals, they should not have to go through this."

The owner said he had written to the lord chief justice, as well as to the justice minister, appealing for tougher sentencing.

Two members of the Policing Board have also expressed concern about the attacks.

DUP MLA Robin Newton said: "When a person is caught, where there is a serial offender, you do expect the judiciary to take that into account. The owner should continue to put pressure in that direction."

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said responsibility for sentencing policy lay with the minister and also with the assembly.

"This should be looked at to work out what is appropriate," he said.