Cannabis growhouses continue to blight the midlands, with a reported 200 increase in the cultivation of drugs between the second quarter of 2015 and this year.
At the recent meeting of the Joint Policing Committee meeting, it was revealed that there has been an eight percent increase in drugs and weapons offences, from 63 to 68.
There was a whopping 200 percent increase in the cultivation of drugs, from one case in the second quarter of 2015 up to three in the same quarter this year, while there was a 75 percent increase in having drugs for sale or supply, from 16 to 28.
There was also a 100 percent increase in possession of an offensive weapon, up from four to eight.
Simple drug possession was down 29 percent, from 41 to 29, and possession of a firearm was down 100 percent, from one last year to none this quarter.
Superintendent Joe Prendergast said that the vast majority of cannabis growhouses ended up in the court and it was very rare for noone to be arrested in these incidents.
“A number of recent cases were very successful and we apprehended the people who ran it. Whether we have all the people involved is another day’s work.”
Supt Prendergast said that a number of drug offences related to the local prisons, with people attempting to smuggle drugs in.
He revealed that in recent weeks, the gardaí had advertised internally for a new drug unit in Laois-Offaly, with a garda and sergeant to be appointed in the coming months.
He said it was hoped to allocate more gardaí over time.
“A lot of drug dealers are local people, born and bred in Laois, but a number come in,” he said, in reply to a question from Cllr John King on the movement of drug dealers between areas.
Deputy Brian Stanley said that at this year’s Electric Picnic there had been a lot of designer drugs which had not been seen before and which had caused people to become seriously ill requiring hospitalisation.
He said there was a need for the drug squad in Laois to be reformed. “Given the level of supply, Laois tends to be very high. It needs that type of attention,” he said, adding that a lot of thefts were committed to feed drug addiction.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley said there had been some very serious issues in the town over drugs, with people feuding.