Extra gardai to crack down on drugs and crime in Laois town

Michelle Hogan

Reporter:

Michelle Hogan

People in Portarlington can expect to see extra gardai on the beat in the town in the coming weeks.

This is part of a grada crackdown on drugs and other crime in the area due to the number of people with a "colourful past" that have moved into the town.

Laois/Offaly Garda Chief Superintendent John Scanlon told the Joint Policing Committee that there will be extra gardai assigned to Portarlington in the coming weeks. 

"We have established a drugs unit and in the next couple of weeks people will be assigned to policing in the urban centres.

"Portarlington is going to see a significant increase in its numbers, it is an area that I have significant concerns about.

"A lot of people have moved there from outside the area who would have had a colourful past and they changed how the social balance of the area. We are putting extra guards into that environment in the next number of weeks," he said.

This comes after €56,000 worth of cocaine was seized by gardai at a house in Landsdowne Court, Portarlington two weeks ago. 

Cllr Tom Mulhall welcomed the extra policing in Portarlington and said there is a need for gardai in housing estates as well as on the main streets. 

"This is something we would have been looking for for quite a while. We have a huge population there of 12,000 people in that catchment area so I welcome the presence of more gardai in the streets and housing estates.

"There are 40 housing estates in the Laois side of Portarlington and over 20 housing estates in the Offaly side. It is quite a huge big area. I would like to see the garda station in Port open for longer hours. It is our second biggest town in the county with a big population," he said.

Cllr Mulhall also called for longer opening hours in Portarlington Garda Station due to the size of the population. 

The Joint Policing Committee heard on Monday that there has been almost a 70 percent increase in crimes involving drugs and weapons in Laois in the first three months of this year compared to the same time period in 2017. 

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