Theft and drug offences behind sharp rise in crime in several towns

Over 52% of Garda stations had more reported offences last year than in 2018

CSO figures show Pearse Street in Dublin is the country’s busiest Garda station, recording   in excess of 10,000 crimes last year. Photograph: Frank Miller

CSO figures show Pearse Street in Dublin is the country’s busiest Garda station, recording in excess of 10,000 crimes last year. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Some Irish towns and larger villages have faced sharp increases in crime with the number of crimes in Slane, Co Meath almost doubling from 102 in 2018 to 197 last year largely due to a big increase in theft and drug offences.

Other areas with large increases included Ballyshannon, Co Donegal (+71 per cent); Donegal town (+57 per cent); Roundwood, Co Wicklow (+52 per cent) and Skerries, Co Dublin (+29 per cent).

An analysis of recorded crimes across all 564 Garda stations nationwide last year shows rates increased in more than half of all towns and villages, despite a reduction in high-profile offences such as burglaries and robberies.

Figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), based on data recorded on the Garda Pulse system, show more than 52 per cent of stations had a higher number of reported offences last year than in 2018.

Elsewhere, there were noticeable reductions in crime levels in some provincial towns with three stations – Newcastlewest, Co Limerick, Westport, Co Mayo and New Ross, Co Wexford – recording a drop in crime levels in excess of 20 per cent last year.

A significant decrease in public order offences was a common factor in all three areas.

Busiest station

The CSO figures show Pearse Street in Dublin’s south inner city is the country’s busiest Garda station and the only one in the country to record in excess of 10,000 crimes last year.

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A total of 10,217 offences were logged in the station during 2019 – a daily average of 28 crimes – although the figure was down 6 per cent on the previous year.

In contrast, two rural stations – Recess in Co Galway and Barraduff in Co Kerry – each recorded only one crime last year, a theft and assault respectively.

Meanwhile, almost three-quarters of the country’s 28 Garda divisions, which are largely based along county boundaries, experienced rising crime rates during 2019.

Donegal recorded the largest single increase with a 17 per cent rise in crimes followed by Roscommon-Longford (16 per cent) and Wicklow and Dublin West (both 14 per cent).

Donegal, Wicklow and Dublin West as well as Westmeath bucked the national trend by experiencing a surge in burglaries during 2019 with the number of reported break-ins to properties in Wicklow up 37 per cent annually.

Limerick enjoyed the biggest reduction in crime anywhere in the Republic with the number of reported offences down 8 per cent. Other counties in the midwest region also had lower levels of crime with Tipperary down 6 per cent and Clare by 5 per cent.

Mayo, Wexford, Carlow-Kilkenny as well as Cork city and Cork West were the only other divisions to record falling crime levels last year.

Crime rates were up 6 per cent collectively across the six Garda divisions which cover Dublin city and county with an increase in offences recorded in 12 out of 14 of the main crime categories.

The only falling crime levels in the capital last year were for robberies and kidnappings.

Covid-19

Restrictions on people’s mobility introduced to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic will have a major impact on crime in the Republic this year with a large reduction in the number of reported offences across a range of categories including theft, burglary and criminal damage already confirmed.

In a report to the Policing Authority last week, the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, said the restrictions had had a significant effect on crime with most crime types reporting noticeable decreases since mid-March.

Residential burglaries between April and June are down 53 per cent on the same months last year while crimes against the person are down 17 per cent over the same period.

“Covid-19 has resulted in a lot of business premises being shut and, with more people staying at home, there is a reduction in the number of residences left vacant,” said Mr Harris. “As a result, offenders are presented with less opportunity to commit property crime offences.”