Crime increases in Dublin as falls of pandemic being reversed

Garda seize near record level of cash and drugs during organised crime investigations

Gardaí on Grafton Street, Dublin during Covid-19 lockdown. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Street crime and burglaries have increased significantly in Dublin since the start of the year with the unprecedented slump in crime witnessed during the pandemic coming to an end, but not yet fully reversed.

The Garda has also seized a near record level of cash and drugs during organised crime investigations, a continuationof last year’s trend.

In January and February of this year, drugs valued at €4.95 million were seized in the Dublin Metropolitan Region with €2.2 million in cash seized during the same period. That compares with €4.5 million in drugs and €2.7 million in cash found in Dublin during the same period last year.

The new data is the first official set of crime figures for anywhere in the Republic for 2022. They are contained in a report by Assistant Commissioner Anne Marie Cagney, who is in charge of policing in the capital, submitted to the Dublin City Council joint policing committee.


‘Volume crimes’

She said that while the number of so-called “volume crimes” – those crimes gardaí deal with hundreds of thousands of times every year – may be higher for the first two months of 2022 when compared with 2021, crime trends more generally had still not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“It is particularly noteworthy that while burglary figures for January and February 2022 are higher than the same period in 2021, they are well below equivalent figures for 2020 and 2019, which in turn had been falling year-on-year,” she said.

Over the St Patrick’s Day weekend in Dublin there were 434 arrests under Operational Saul, which was conducted over the five-day period ending at midnight on Sunday. The arrests were for all crime types in the city and county, including 165 public order incidents.

In the first two months of this year, other noted trends in crime in Dublin include:

– Burglaries increased by 23 per cent, to 720 crimes.

– Aggravated burglaries, involving violence and threats, down by 17 per cent, numbering 15 cases.

– Robbery from the person, including muggings, up by 18 per cent and robbery from establishments, including shops, up by 20 per cent.

– Possession of drugs for “sale and supply” and for “personal use” down by 22 per cent and 42 per cent respectively.

– Public order crime up by 12 per cent, to 1,055 incidents.

– The crimes of “assault” and the more serious “assault causing harm” were up by 43 per cent and 32 per cent respectively.

– Unauthorised taking of vehicles, mainly car theft, increased by 120 per cent in the first two months of this year.

Some 3,405 bicycle thefts were recorded last year, slightly down on 2020, though it is widely accepted many bicylce thefts are not reported to gardaí and are absent from official figures.

Garda sources said drug and cash seizures increased during the pandemic because the drugs trade continued to boom. Though pubs and clubs were closed for much of 2020 and 2021, chronic and recreational drug users continued to buy their drugs on the streets or, more commonly, over the phone. This shift resulted in the number of people caught in possession of drugs last year falling by 22 per cent even though the value of cash and drugs seized remained notably high.

Gardaí familiar with the drugs trade told The Irish Times the economy was booming, adding that the demand for drugs was always very high during periods of prosperity, usually resulting in large seizures of drugs and cash from organised gangs.

“We’ve also been in a period now, especially in Dublin, where a lot of resources that went into the Kinahan-Hutch feud have been directed at other [gangs] because the feud has been quieter,” said one source. “So a lot of those gangs who got stronger during the feud, or young lads who’ve now become a bigger players, they’ve been coming on our radar a bit more.”

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times