Number of assaults last year at highest rate since 2008

Gardaí launch campaign to warn young men of the consequences of assault

Recorded assaults typically take place around public places between 8pm and 5am at the weekend. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Recorded assaults typically take place around public places between 8pm and 5am at the weekend. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The number of assaults last year was the highest since 2008, with most carried out by men between 18-34 against men of a similar age, according to gardai.

An Garda Síochána has launched a new campaign entitled “Use Your Brain Not Your Fists” urging young men to think of the consequences for themselves and others of being involved in assaults.

The Garda Síochána Analysis Service (GSAS) said 2017 had seen the highest number of assaults since 2008.

Recorded assaults typically take place in and around public places (streets, roads, pubs and hotels) between 8pm and 5am at the weekend, peaking early Sunday morning.

The service said international research had shown that the level of assaults can be associated with the vibrancy of the night-time economy, which had shown signs of recovery following the recession.

“The total number of assaults decreased year on year between 2008 and 2013, but since then it has increased – last year saw the highest number of assaults since 2008. Assault levels to date this year are on par with 2017 levels,” the service said.

Night-time economy

As a proportion of all assaults, those linked to the night-time economy had risen by one percentage point between 2016 and 2017, although the proportion of all assaults linked to the night-time economy has fallen in recent years, from a high of 24 per cent in 2007 to 16 per cent in 2016.

An Garda Síochána said it had implemented a “multi-strand anti-crime strategy” to reduce assaults and enhance community safety.

This included the identification of assault hotspots and the implementation of “high-visibility policing” in those areas from early in the summer.

An Garda Síochána was also working in partnerships with licensed premises, the business community and local councils to address issues around anti-social behaviour.

The strategy also involves the public awareness campaign titled “Use Your Brain Not Your Fists” targeted at males aged between 16 and 35, which is being promoted from Thursday.

The campaign informs them about the consequences from assaulting another person, including the possibility that they could lose their job, their ability to travel, and even go to jail, the force said.

“It also reminds people of the potentially devastating physical and mental impact on assault victims.”

The campaign will run on social media, in pubs, and in locations such as nightclubs, sports clubs and youth clubs. It will also be promoted in third-level institutions from September.

Sergeant Graham Kavanagh of the National Crime Prevention Unit (NCPU), urged young men to think about the impact of their actions on themselves and others, and advised people to be streetwise when they are out and about.

“The vast majority of assaults that occur are needless and avoidable,” said Sergeant Kavanagh. “They are usually carried out by males against males aged between 18 and 35. The peak time for these assaults is early Sunday morning. Don’t be that guy; use your brain not your fists,” he said.

Arrange transport

He said people should never attempt to reason with drunk or aggressive people.

“Walk away and look for help. Be streetwise when you’re out and about. Planning is key to having a good night out.”

People should also arrange transport to and from events in advance.

“Let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back. Avoid walking alone and in dark places. Be wary of your surroundings and mind your property,” he said.

Sergeant Kavanagh urged assault victims to report the crime, which, according to the CSO may be under-reported by approximately 40 per cent.

“Some victims of assaults, particularly men, are embarrassed to say they have been assaulted. I would encourage anybody, and in particular younger men, to report all assaults to An Garda Síochána. Anyone who has been assaulted will be treated with sensitivity by An Garda Síochána and it will be fully investigated,” he added.