Crime down for summer

CRIME dropped by a quarter in Portlaoise this summer but drugs continue to be a major issue, according to a garda report just published.

CRIME dropped by a quarter in Portlaoise this summer but drugs continue to be a major issue, according to a garda report just published.

Senior gardai revealed the figures to Portlaoise Town Councillors at the Joint Policing Meeting in County Hall. And local law and order appears to be so well maintained, one councillor even joked that perhaps the gardaí can afford to go on holiday.

Superintendent Philip Lyons reported an overall 26 percent reduction for the period of June - August from the same period last year, and also a general drop in crime figures from the period March - May of this year, with only burglaries showing an increase.

The gardaí report a total of 54 public order offences detected in Portlaoise over the last quarter, which represents a reduction of 20 incidents from the previous three months. The nature of these offences were drunkenness and threatening or abusive behaviour. There were also five incidents of trespassing on private property.

Although there were 40 burglaries, which stands at an increase of 14 crimes on the previous quarter, Supt Lyons said this figure is down 16 percent from last year. On theft, there has been an 11 percent decrease, with 10 thefts of vehicles, two from the person, 49 from shops and 65 other types of theft, including the theft of heating oil, diesel, tools and items stolen from cars.

There were also 43 offences of criminal damage reported, one less than the last three months. The superintendent also said that drugs continue to be a major issue for the guards, with 18 detections for the sale or supply and 23 offences recorded for possession. The gardaí also report a 20 percent decrease in drink driving offences, which the superintendent ascribed to the increased number of mandatory alcohol tests.

Community policing continues to be a success, with mountain bike patrols being highly visible in housing estates and a summer outing for young people organised in August. With the winter approaching, Supt Lyons said that the gardaí will be active in their support of Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch Schemes, to ensure the elderly and vulnerable are protected.

The report was welcomed by the town council members, with Cllr Rotimi Adebari remarking: “Maybe we can ask the gardaí to go on holiday, as crime is down so much?” Cllr Adebari went on to say that the figures are down due to increased garda presence and he commended the police on their increased visibility.