BURGLARIES across Laois and Offaly have increased by almost 50% in just four years, according to research carried out by the Leinster Express into figures released by the Central Statistics Office.
In a damning sign of the times, the number of burglaries in the region has risen from 664 back in 2007 to 974 last year, an increase of 46.6%. The total number of theft offences recorded has also risen, from 1,526 in 2007 to 1,717 in 2011. Alarmingly, arrests for the cultivation of drugs has increased by 700%, from just two incidents in 2007 up to 16 last year. Drug possession has, however, halved over the same period.
The figures come at a time when there is considerable public concern over garda resources, with the recent downgrading of Abbeyleix Garda Station and new garda rostering which sees officers working longer shifts.
The recent figures for drink driving show just how effective local policing can be when resources are properly used. Between 2007 and 2010, the number of convictions for drink driving dropped by over 50% from 626 to 295 and last year’s figure of 251 represents another 14.9% decrease.
Speaking to the Leinster Express, Charlie Flanagan TD said he was very concerned about the increase in home break-ins, but added he was confident in the current policing levels. “I hope the new rostering will provide a greater level of vigilance and longer patrolling,” he said.
Deputy Flanagan went on to confirm that he met with Minister Brendan Howlin in recent weeks to discuss the public sector employment embargo and he said that senior gardaí positions will soon be filled. He also said that new garda patrol cars should be provided.
Sinn Fein’s Brian Stanley TD also underlined the need for garda vacancies to be filled quickly, and he highlighted the importance of “on the ground policing.”
“We have to maximise the use of the resources we have,” he said. “There are dedicated garda units targeting travelling gangs and there is a need for that, but we also need on the ground policing to link up with the local community.”
While the number of gardaí available remains a concern, figures show that overall crime has dropped slightly over the last 12 months. However, burglaries and related offences rose steadily throughout the four annual quarters of 2011, from 200 recorded between January and March, up to 325 for the last three months of the year.
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