Portlaoise Garda Station
A rise in the figures for public order offences but a drop in the figures for assaults shows that the gardaí are intervening more in disputes “before things get out of hand”.
So said Superintendent Anthony Pettit, at the recent meeting of the Laois Joint Policing Committee, revealing that between September, 2018, and September this year, assault figures are down from 371 to 344 and assault causing harm is down from 110 to 74, while public order offences during the same 12-month period have risen from 267 to 269 and drunkenness is up from 90 to 143.
Assault on a peace officer has doubled, from seven to 14; and murder threats are up, from 29 to 36.
Overall, crimes against the person are down 8 percent, from 549 to 504.
Superintendent Pettit said the assault figures include the local prisons, with 12 of the 36 threats to kill taking place in the prison and one at the courthouse.
He said the rise in public order offences was due to more gardaí being on the streets, adding that the combination of increased public order offences with less assaults showed that arrests are being made “before things get out of hand”.
Cllr Aidan Mullins asked how seriously do the courts take threats to kill and how many prosecutions are there. He also asked whether domestic violence was included in these figures.
Supt Pettit said that threats to kill are taken seriously by the courts, with some offenders being prosecuted for assault.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley asked what is the process if someone ignores a court order to keep out of a particular area.
Supt Pettit said that the gardaí can object to bail or look for bail conditions, however the difficulty was that in some cases the offender may live in the area.
Concerning domestic violence, which covers assault, criminal damage or breach of a protection or barring order, there may be a disturbance in a house but no actual criminal act or no complaint is made, the superintendent explained.
“It’s difficult if we don’t have the evidence,” he said.