Sunday 17 December 2017

Newly beefed up drugs unit is cracking down on drugs

By Esther Hayden

Chief Supt John Roche
Chief Supt John Roche

Wexford gardai are making significant inroads in the war against drugs.

Chief Superintendent John Roche said that newly beefed up drugs unit within the division was working very hard to crack down on drugs. He said that there was an increase of 4 per cent in the amount of people caught for the unlawful possession of drugs in the last year. He said that drug possession cases stand at 193 so far this year compared to 185 for the same period last year.

He said that the amount of people caught with drugs with the intention of sale or supply rose by a whopping 92 per cent rising from 50 cases this year compared to 26 for the same period last year. Public order offences jumped by 12 per cent from 482 to 430 cases this year.

Chief Superintendent Roche said that putting more members back into the drugs unit had been very successful in terms of increasing detections.

However he said that 2015 is the first year since 2010 that public order offences have increased. He said this increase is linked to an increased night-time economy.

Cllr Davy Hynes said it was very heartening to see that drug detections within the county were on the rise. 'We are all delighted that the increased drugs unit is beginning to show results. Cutting back the drugs unit was one of the worst aspects of the recession and drugs is an issue that has a huge effect on local communities.'

Cllr Hynes said increased garda numbers were needed in the fight against crime noting that public order offences were also on the rise. 'What's happening at home is worse (in terms of drinking) because there are children present.'

Cllr Fergie Kehoe wondered if any part of the county was particularly affected by drugs and wondered if there was a specific plan in place to reduce the amount of drugs on the street aside from the increased drugs unit.

In response Chief Superintendent Roche said that there were drug detections all over the county and not use in the urban centres. He said gardai often intercepted people while they were moving drugs. 'Only last week we caught someone with drugs moving them from Wexford to Gorey and the same people were stopped three weeks ago in Oylegate.'

Cllr Barbara Ann Murphy wondered if the increase in drug detections was as a direct result of the augmented drugs unit or if there were more drugs available in the county.

Chief Superintendent Roche said all the county's drug activity is done covertly and said the detection rate is linked to increased manpower adding he was delighted that the drugs unit was back to capacity.

Deputy John Browne said that everyone heard anecdotal evidence about local drug dealers but said 'the gardai don't seem to be able to catch them.'

Cllr Willie Fitzharris said that at 18th and 21st parties 'drugs were being handed around like snuff at a wake'.

Chief Superintendent Roche said the drugs unit is very active in the Enniscorthy area. He urged all the councillors with any information on drug dealing to talk to the gardai in confidence. 'We need people talking to us', he said.

Community representative Declan Dunbarr said 'you are treating drugs and robberies as if they are two separate issues. They are the same. If you solve the drugs problem you will solve the robbery problem.'

He said there was a particular problem in Courtown and Riverchapel and said there were no gardai living in the community.

Chief Superintendent Roche said he couldn't force gardai to live where they worked.

Wexford People

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