Begging offences shoot up by 410%

by Aisling Kennedy

Crime statistics released by the Joint Policing Committee meeting last week showed that begging is up by a massive 410% in the city centre, with murder down by 54% and theft and assaults causing harm up by 12%.
As part of a report presented to Dublin City Council (DCC) by Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan of the Dublin Metropolitan Region, it was revealed that the total number of public order offences are up by 51%.
Cllr Daithi Doolin (SF) told the Gazette that he believes the high rate of public order offences is due to cuts in Garda resources over the last few years.
He said: “It is shocking to think that over 2,000 Gardai have been cut from the force over the last five years. That is unacceptable in the capital.”
Cllr Doolin also pointed to the high level of begging in Dublin city centre at the Joint Policing Committee and asked “what happens to people who have been arrested for begging? Are they simply locked up, then released back out again or are they put in contact with services that can help assist them?
“There’s no point in simply arresting people, locking them up and releasing them from where they came from. That’s not what we should be about. We should be assisting people in moving on. That question wasn’t answered at the Joint Policing Committee and that was unfortunate but I think the reason is because the answer is not there.”
The report also revealed that for the year ending 2015, property crime in the DCC area is down 4% on 2014, violent property crime is up 2% (27 incidents) on 2014 levels, while thefts from shops remain higher than 2014 levels.
Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan reported: “Comparing 2014 to 2015, there has been an increase in crimes against the person (+12%) with the greatest increase in the category of assaults. While this is off the back of significant decreases in 2012, 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, it continues to present a challenge to An Garda Siochana to address this trend.
“Hi-visibility strategies will remain in place to address this trend, utilising mountain bike and foot patrols in key areas. Operation Spire and Operation Pier remain in place in the city centre to tackle these crime categories.”
In more positive statistics, however, overall drug offences are down by 2% in the DCC area in 2015.
Drug offences include cultivation (-35%), possession of sale or supply (-11%) and possession for personal use (-3%).
The report stated that this decrease could be taken in context with an increase in Garda activity in the area with 31,055 incidents of searches under the Drugs Legislation 2015, which represents a 2% increase on 2014.
In response to the need for more Gardai on city streets, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald announced recently that there will be a drive to recruit 600 Gardai this year.
Minister Fitzgerald said: “The 600 new Gardai to be recruited this year will bring to 1,150 the total number of new recruits since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014. So far 295 of these recruits have attested as members of An Garda Siochana and are on the ground in communities nationwide.”

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