There will be an increased police presence across Northern Ireland in the coming weeks following the launch of this year's Christmas safety campaign.

Operation Season's Greetings is designed to ensure resources are deployed to deter and detect criminality as well as provide a visible reassurance to the public.

Chief Superintendent David Beck, tactical commander for the campaign, said: "We have seen an increase in shop-lifting this year to date so far, and we anticipate that that may continue over the Christmas period, so we'll increase our physical presence, and we're working with Retail NI and retailers across the country to increase their awareness of the risks around shop-lifting and other thefts and crimes."

Launching the campaign at Musgrave Street police station, Mr Beck said it will focus on public safety across a range of priorities, including shopping, roads and transports, safety in the home and safety when out socialising.

The PSNI are working with partners Translink and Retail NI to deliver guidance.

"We will be conducting patrols right across the country with the aim of detecting and preventing crime, and reassuring communities of our aim to keep people safe," he said.

"Our safe transport team will be working closely with Translink to ensure passenger and staff safety right across the public transport network, particularly at this really busy time of the year.

"Of course we can be much more effective if we work together, so I would like people to think ahead this festive season and how they can help prevent becoming the victim of a crime. I would encourage people to go to our website - www.psni.police.uk/christmas - where they will find a range of useful crime prevention and safety advice."

This year's campaign is to have a particular focus on violence against women and girls.

Mr Beck said: "We will seek to increase our presence in nightlife areas and work with the hospitality industry and other partners to improve safety in public spaces.

"We will also take active steps to support all victims of domestic abuse. In the past we have seen an increase in domestic abuse incidents over the Christmas period and we want all victims to know that we are here for them."

Ian Campbell, Translink director of service operations, said: "We're encouraging everyone across Northern Ireland to use public transport this festive season for safe, convenient and great value journeys, whether it's for shopping, socialising or some festive entertainment.

"We want everyone to enjoy the busy lead-up to Christmas and will be operating additional late-night bus, coach and train services to help people get home safely and in comfort.

"Our staff will be working hard to keep everyone on the move, often driving in heavy traffic or managing busy stations and platforms, so we would ask everyone to support and respect our teams."

Glyn Roberts, Retail NI chief executive, added: "This is the most important time of the year for our local retail sector. We urge consumers to stay safe, be vigilant of shop-lifters, plan their shopping trips and be kind with hardworking retail staff.

"We also appeal to our members to work with the police to ensure shoppers and staff are safe this festive season."