Most voters see no fall in crime


Most voters believe there has been no reduction in crime since the present coalition entered Government six months ago. However, fewer people in Dublin than in other parts of the State believe there has been no reduction in crime levels.

"Before the election the parties now in Government claimed that, once elected, they would bring about a substantial reduction in the incidence of crime," The Irish Times/MRBI poll said in a question. "In your opinion has there or has there not been a reduction in crime?"

Seventy three per cent of those surveyed said they did not believe the level of crime had been reduced.

Fine Gael voters represented the largest proportion of people who did not believe crime had been reduced, at 82 per cent. Sixty eight per cent of Fianna Fail, 73 per cent of Labour and 73 per cent of PD voters said crime had not been reduced.

But among the middle classes and Dublin residents there seemed to be a slightly stronger belief that crime levels had dropped.

Sixty seven per cent of middle class and 75 per cent of working class voters said the crime rate had not dropped.

Sixty two per cent of people in Dublin said they believed crime had not been reduced compared with 71 per cent in Munster, 80 per cent in Connacht/Ulster and 83 per cent in Leinster.

Twenty one per cent of people said they thought the incidence of crime had fallen.

Broken down according to party support, 25 per cent of Fianna Fail voters, 14 per cent of Fine Gael voters, 21 per cent of Labour voters and 17 per cent of PD voters said they believed there had been a reduction.

The figures will be a disappointment to the Government parties, which both promised to make tackling crime a priority. Their Programme for Government promised to tackle crime and adopt a zero tolerance policy.

Among its election promises Fianna Fail made a commitment to zero tolerance "as quickly as possible", and to the recruitment of 1,200 extra gardai.

The Progressive Democrats promised zero tolerance "on day one", if elected, better compensation for victims and representation in court for victims of sex offences.

However, the survey showed that more than two out of three Fianna Fail and PD voters believe there has been no reduction in crime since the parties came to power.

Last month the Minister for Justice, Mr O'Donoghue, published a Bill amending the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act, and imposing a mandatory 10-year prison sentence for possession of drugs with a value of £10,000 or more.

Mr O'Donoghue also told the Dail last month that Garda overtime was expected to cost more than £43 million this year, a threefold increase on 1994.

The two biggest demands were for investigations of serious crimes, including the murder of Veronica Guerin, and measures to deal with the BSE crisis.