Galway third highest on public order offence list
Geography, emigration, drug and alcohol consumption, and reduced Garda resources all play a part in the number of recorded public order offences, writes CONOR LALLY, Crime Correspondent
ON QUAY Street in Galway city at the height of summer, there is little evidence that the recession has battered people’s disposable incomes or that the tourism sector is struggling.
The pubs are full to overflowing on a recent warm August Saturday night, and people are spilling on to the streets to enjoy their drinks. Tourists mingle with locals and the droves of hen and stag parties that have descended on the packed pubs.
Gardaí patrol the narrow city streets on foot and in Garda vans and cars.
Most pubs have hired security staff, manning the doorways to check who’s coming and going. The bouncers are watching to ensure people taking drinks outside have availed of the offer of a plastic glass from the bar.
Groups of younger men and women have clearly been on the go since earlier in the day, with more than a couple of drinkers the worse for wear by early in the evening.
But, overwhelmingly, the atmosphere is jovial, with little to indicate that Galway has one of the biggest public order crime rates in the State.
Crime figures broken down to Garda station level by the Central Statistics Office and the All-Island Research Institute at NUI, Maynooth, show that Galway recorded 4,363 criminal offences last year, making it the seventh busiest station nationwide in terms of recorded crime.
The figures do not offer a per capita breakdown.
Given the large size of the area policed by Galway, not to mention its city centre nature, it is perhaps not surprising that the main Garda station in the west is in the top 10 busiest in the State.
Of the total crimes recorded last year in Galway, 1,559 were classified as public order offences. That figure puts Galway third on the public order list, behind only the Dublin inner Garda stations of Pearse Street (2,237 public order offences) and Store Street (1,654), both of which police the busiest retail and nightlife districts in the State.
Nationally, public order crimes have fallen by 21 per cent since a peak of 61,822 offences in 2008. Assaults have fallen by 12 per cent since peaking in 2008, while criminal damage has tumbled by 21 per cent.
In Galway, some 36 per cent of all offences recorded last year were public order offences.
Gardaí say that part of the reason Galway records more public order offences than most other parts of the country is that the compact nature of the city centre means it is relatively easy to police for public order offences.