Violent crime has risen in the midlands over the last 12 months, with the latest garda figures for the State showing an increase in the number of murder threats, robbery and offences involving weapons.
The figures, comparing the last quarter of 2014 to the same period in 2015, show that in the eastern region of the country attempts or threats to murder, assaults, harassments and related offences are up 275 from 2,223 in 2014 to 2,498 last year; robbery, extortion and hijacking offences are up 19 from 212 in 2014 to 231 in 2015; and weapons and explosives offences are up 39 from 278 to 317.
The scourge of criminal gangs is still blighting Irish society, with offences against Government, justice procedures and organisation of crime up 111, from 1,004 in 2014 to last year’s 1,115.
Controlled drug offences were also up 35, from 2,127 in 2014 to 2,162 last year.
These figures match the latest information provided by local senior gardaí in relation to Laois specifically.
At the recent Joint Policing Committee Meeting in County Hall, Superintendent Joe Prendergast revealed that in Laois the possession of an offensive weapon has gone up by 400 percent, from two arrests in the last quarter of 2014 up to ten at the end of last year.
Supt Prendergast said that such arrests usually related to groups of people in disputes, particularly young people, and the weapons seized ranged from “a stick, to a baseball bat, to something more serious”.
He also told the meeting that assault is up 100 percent (one in 2014, to two in the final quarter of 2015), assault causing harm is up 250 percent (four in the final three months of 2014, up to 14 in the last quarter of 2015), and making threats to kill have gone up by 350 percent, from two to nine.
Supt Prendergast said that the prison accounted for many of these assaults causing harm, as did the increase in the threats to kill.
However, some are still domestic assaults, and some could be the result of difficulties between certain groups or families, he said.
Returning to the current garda statistics, the figures indicate a drop in most areas of crime in the midlands.
Burglary and related offences are down 505 from 4,967 in 2014 to 4,462 in 2015; theft and related offences are down 799 from 10,894 in 2014 to 10,095 last year; damage to property and to the environment is down 507 from 3,955 in 2014 to 3,448 in 2015; and public order and other social code offences are down 504 from 3,727 in 2014 to 3,223 last year.
Nationally, there was an overall decrease of 42.3 percent in murder, down from 52 in 2014 to 30 recorded offences in 2015. This was reflected in the figure for the midlands, down three from 14 in 2014 to 11 last year.
The number of sexual offences across the State rose by 15 percent to 2,361, with the number of recorded rapes increasing from 476 to 536. In the eastern region comprising the midlands the number of sexual offences dropped by four, from 347 to 343.
There were 26,246 recorded burglary and related offences last year, representing a decrease of 1,389, or down 5 percent, compared with 2014. The number of aggravated burglaries also dropped by nearly 14 percent nationally.
Robbery and hijacking offences fell by more than 2 percent to 2,584 recorded offences, however, blackmail or extortion offences rose by nearly 150 percent to 52.
Last year, there were 15,128 drugs offences nationally, a decrease of almost five percent. 10,979 of these offences were for possession of drugs for personal use, which was down 2.6 percent on 2014 numbers.
And the region’s rise in violent crime was mirrored nationally, with attempts or threats to murder, assaults, harassments and related offences rising by 11.8 percent to 16,948.