Gardaí tar­get­ting as­sault ‘hotspots’

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - JOINT POLICING COMMITTEE - By TADHG EVANS

CHIEF Su­per­in­ten­dent Tom My­ers has ex­pressed frus­tra­tion at the rise in as­saults in Kerry this year to date, par­tic­u­larly in Tralee and Kil­lar­ney, with a 24 per cent in­crease in ‘crimes against the per­son’ from 2017.

Con­cerns over the sharp rise, though, will be tem­pered by news that it is an­tic­i­pated that Kerry is to get ap­prox­i­mately 40 new gardaí by 2020.

Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics pro­vided at a Joint Polic­ing Com­mit­tee meet­ing in Ca­her­siveen last Fri­day, Gardaí have made 477 such de­tec­tions since Jan­uary – up from 386 for the same pe­riod last year.

There has also been an in­crease in prop­erty crime (up eight per cent); crim­i­nal damage and pub­lic or­der (three per cent); and drugs and of­fen­sive weapons de­tec­tions (two per cent).

But it was fig­ures re­lat­ing to as­saults that the Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent said he found par­tic­u­larly wor­ry­ing. There has been a 21 per cent in­crease in as­saults caus­ing harm (from 96 de­tec­tions to 116) and a 24 per cent jump in mi­nor as­saults (from 228 de­tec­tions to 283).

“One thing that’s very frus­trat­ing is the amount of peo­ple re­port­ing as­saults but not see­ing the case through af­ter­wards,” he said. “They with­draw the as­sault… or they’re not will­ing to go to court”, he said.

“In the mean­time, we had iden­ti­fied hotspots in Tralee and Kil­lar­ney in par­tic­u­lar… they’re lo­ca­tions where we’re go­ing to place a pres­ence. Even in the past month or so, we’re see­ing a sig­nif­i­cant de­crease in those hotspots.”

While the num­ber of bur­glary de­tec­tions re­mains rel­a­tively stag­nant – the num­ber of in­ci­dents of ag­gra­vated bur­glar­ies is down from five to one, with non-ag­gra­vated bur­glar­ies up from 206 to 216. Chief Supt My­ers warned: “It’s a con­stant chal­lenge try­ing to mon­i­tor crim­i­nal gangs, par­tic­u­larly in Dublin”.

He is also wary that there could be an in­crease in the months ahead as the evenings get darker: “If you see some­thing sus­pi­cious – re­port it to Gardaí,” he said, adding that such re­ports have proven suc­cess­ful in the past in tack­ling po­ten­tial prob­lems.

De­tec­tions of theft from ve­hi­cles have dropped by eight per cent, one of the bright spots of the data pre­sented. The Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent said Gardaí have been proac­tive in ask­ing not to have items vis­i­ble in cars at lo­ca­tions such as beaches and walk­ways.

While the num­ber of thefts from shops is down slightly, there has been a 35 per cent in­crease in theft of other items, which could in­clude tools, mo­bile phones, farm­ing equip­ment, hand­bags, and more. “There are mixed mes­sages there,” Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent My­ers said of the theft sta­tis­tics.

There was also a sig­nif­i­cant rise of 23 per cent in de­tec­tions re­lat­ing to crim­i­nal damage ex­clud­ing arson.

Pub­lic or­der of­fences are down by 10 per cent so far this year, but there has been a 12 per cent in­crease in drunk­en­ness of­fences – mixed mes­sages, the Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent said, given that “both crimes are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked”.

“549 pub­lic or­der of­fences is a lot – but you have to re­mem­ber how many peo­ple come into the county for fes­ti­vals and events,” he said.

Else­where, in­ci­dents of pos­sess­ing drugs for per­sonal use are up six per cent to 377, with a 13 per cent drop in pos­ses­sion of drugs for sale or sup­ply.

“Some of those 67 de­tec­tions [for pos­ses­sion of drugs for sale or sup­ply] are qual­ity de­tec­tions with some of those in­volved in the higher ech­e­lons of drug ac­tiv­ity in Kerry,” he said.

“Drugs are in every town and vil­lage in this county – and we’re not unique in that… Our drugs unit are very, very ac­tive; a lot of work is go­ing on with drug ac­tiv­ity and en­force­ment in the county – and that will con­tinue.”

The Chief Supt ex­plained that the county has re­ceived four new sergeants – two in Tralee, one in Kil­lar­ney and Ca­her­siveen –while Supt Dan Keane moves to Tralee.

Fearghal Pat­twell is the new Su­per­in­ten­dent for Lis­towel, mov­ing from Bruff where he was pro­moted to Su­per in 2015.

Both men are to be­gin their posts to­mor­row (Thurs­day).

Mean­while, a se­nior gardaí source has con­firmed that Kerry is to get 40 new gardaí over the next two years.

The fig­ure is based on anal­y­sis by a hu­man re­source man­age­ment sec­tion at garda HQ.

Kerry Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Tom My­ers

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