Policing committee sceptical about crime figures

Declan Magee

Reporter:

Declan Magee

Members of the Donegal Joint Policing Committee have said figures on crime statistics do not represent the reality on the ground in some areas.

Members of the Donegal Joint Policing Committee have said figures on crime statistics do not represent the reality on the ground in some areas.

Figures presented to the October meeting of the joint policing committee (JPC) show most categories of crime are down in the first six months of the year compared to the same period meeting of 2011.

But members of the committee said the statistics were not reflecting the reality in their areas. Inspector Michael Finan, said there was a downward trend in most areas of crime. Burglaries were down 6.5 per cent last year and he added there have been successes in investigations including the arrest of one person who admitted to ten burglaries. Figures showed that 48 per cent of burglaries in the county in 2012 took place on a Saturday.

There was also a 14 per cent drop in the number of thefts, but hew warned that there has been an increase in the theft of home heating oil.

Thefts from vehicles dropped by 20 per cent and he said there had been a targeted operation over the summer by gardaí against such crimes.

Assaults were down 11 per cent with most of the offences occurring outside licensed premises and fast food outlets.

Public order offences fell by 14 per cent and Inspector Fianan said the economic downturn has had a role in this with fewer people socialising.

Drugs offences were on the increase with a 47 per cent rise in the number of offences connected to the sale or supply of drugs, rising from 17 to 25. There was also a 25 per cent increase in the number of charges relating to the cultivation of drugs, rising from three to four.

Drink driving fell by eight per cent in the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of 2011.

But Cllr. Gerry Crawford said the message coming to him from people in the St. Johnston and Carrigans area was very different from the message coming from the statistics.

He said the whole way of life in rural Ireland is changing and there is a growing trend in attacks on the person and on property.

He said there appeared to be nothing happening in terms of a garda response to crime. “What happens in the border area is that nothing is happening,” he said. “There should be more feedback,” he said. “More confidence should be given back to the communities. The figures do not bear a resemblance to the area I live in.”

Cllr. Bernard McGuinness suggested that maybe the crimes figures “are very good in some areas but not so good in others”. He called for the figures to be broken down for different areas in the county. He there has been a lot of cross-border crime and pointed out that some community alert schemes are not functioning properly.

Cllr. Paul Canning said everyone knows there is a lack of gardaí in the county. He said the closing of rural garda stations is only saving 80 euro a day.

Inspector Finan said the garda victim’s charter puts the onus on gardaí to keep the victims of crime updated.