Anyone who thinks they can come to Laois and cause trouble is in for a rude awakening, was the stark warning given at last week’s Joint Policing Committee meeting.
Chief Superintendent John Scanlon promised that on his watch, thugs and hoodlums from outside Laois would be given short shrift by the local gardaí if they attempt to terrorise the ordinary taxpayer.
His words came after Deputy Brian Stanley raised the issue of criminals coming into Laois from outside the county causing trouble for decent people locally.
“We can’t have a situation where hoodlums come into a housing estate and turn it upside down and terrorise people who are living in it and paying rent and mortgages and are struggling to keep the roofs over their heads,” said Deputy Stanley.
“We cannot have a situation where 99 percent of people are being terrorised by the one percent who think they can do whatever they like, whenever they like, to whomever they like.
“We cannot tolerate a situation where people are being terrorised in their own homes,” he said.
To this, Chief Superintendent John Scanlon issued a stern warning to such undesirables: “I can assure you, if anyone thinks they can come in from the outside to this county and cause trouble, they’ve come to the wrong place.
“On my watch, it won’t happen. They will receive the full rigours of the law,” he said.
Regarding rogue groups of individuals moving into areas and causing havok, Chief Supt Scanlon said he would urge all landlords to be responsible as to who they rent their houses to.
At the meeting, it was revealed that crime against the person is up 32.7 percent, from 52 in the second quarter of last year to 69 this year.
While assault against a peace officer has dropped from four to none, assault causing harm is up from eight to 14 (a 75 percent increase) and minor assaults are up from 38 to 54 (an increase of 42 percent).
Superintendent Anthony Pettit said that the assaults figures in Laois are complicated by the presence of the prisons, with a certain percentage of these offences relating to the prison.
He also said that a certain percentage of drugs offences relate to the prisons, too.
Deputy Stanley noted there had been a number of serious assaults in the Portlaoise area, with men being attacked by assailants with weapons such as a hurl.
“I always walked home at night when I went out, I still would, maybe naively, but I’ve met a number of younger men who are bigger than me, maybe even hardier than me, but they won’t walk home.
“People are afraid of being stabbed or being attacked with a weapon,” Deputy Stanley said.