Wednesday 24 January 2018

Sale of drugs up 45 per cent across Wexford

The sale and supply of drugs in Wexford has increased by 45 per cent since this time last year, despite an overall reduction in crime in the county.

In the first quarter of this year, the Gardai dealt with 32 incidents relating to the sale or supply of drugs, compared to 22 during the same period last year. Cases regarding the possession of drugs for personal use have also increased by 24 per cent, with 88 incidents compared to 67 last year. However, the overall level of crime in the county has reduced.

The figures were unveiled by Chief Superintendent John Roche at a recent meeting of the Joint Policing Committee.

Cllr George Lawlor said that he welcomed the increase in drug detection in the county, saying that it indicates that more resources are being pumped into this area.

'It is quite heartening to see,' he said. 'Drugs are very much a big issue in the community.'

Supt Roche acknowledged that the county has a 'drug issue' and took Cllr Lawlor's comments on board.

'I was severely criticised two or three years ago when I reduced the drugs unit,' he said. 'I have now increased that again to six full-time members and that is showing.'

Though he said that he was 'delighted' to see overall crime figures going down, Cllr Robbie Ireton said that drug taking is 'no worse or better'.

'We as councillors are dealing with drugs on a regular basis. The devastation to mind, body and spirit is unbelievable.

'The amount it costs for the health service is unbelievable. There is never enough money spent on this problem compared to the amount that drugs are gaining.'

Meanwhile, property crime for the first quarter of the year is 33 per cent lower than this time last year, with 688 reported incidents compared to 1,073 last year. Burglaries also saw a 58 per cent reduction, with 193 incidents compared to 455 last year.

Car theft, shop theft and other forms of theft have also seen a reduction of 5 per cent, 10 per cent and 38 per cent respectively. There were 84 reports of car theft in the first quarter, 161 shop thefts and 179 other thefts in Wexford. Public order offences are down 2 per cent, from 170 incidents to 166. Crimes against the person are also down 17 per cent from 168 incidents last year to 132 in 2016.

Supt Roche credited the overall reduction in crime to an increase in funding.

'We had Operation Thor. We were able to put out extra patrols and had a burglary task force. We hand-picked sergeants and guards who worked around the clock.

'We targeted home-grown criminals first,' he added. 'We sat outside their houses and put surveillance in place. We brought them to court and put curfews on them and checked them twice a night.'

Saying that he wasn't going to 'gloat' about figures as they 'could go up in the morning', Supt Roche said that he hoped the new government would give them the budget to continue carrying out their work.

Supt Roche also outlined the figures for traffic incidents and crimes. Fatalities are down by 66 per cent compared to last year, with only one road fatality compared to three during the same period in 2015. However, dangerous road users are on the increase, with a 50 per cent increase in intoxicated driving in the first quarter of 2016. There were 98 incidents in Wexford so far this year, compared to 62 last year.

'That's nearly one a day,' said Supt Roche. 'The message is not getting through to some people.'

Mobile phone use has also increased by 2 per cent (from 286 to 292 cases).

Deputy Michael D'Arcy extended his gratitude to Supt Roche and the Gardai for their work. Cllr Barbara Anne Murphy also welcomed the overall reduction in crime levels but questioned whether this trend can continue.

'In your face policing has to be welcomed,' she said. 'But my question is, do we have enough money to continue with this work for the rest of the year?'

Supt Roche said he has already 'way overspent' the budget but said that he would prefer to 'take it in the neck' from his boss about overspending than be questioned about high crime levels in Wexford.

Wexford People

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