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Murder, drugs crimes, and other offences on the rise in Dublin region in the last 12 months

Begging offences on the streets of Dublin has decreased but some representatives said this does not reflect the reality.

Image: Sam Boal

THERE HAS BEEN an increase in the number of  murders, drugs offences and other crimes in Dublin over the past year, according to a report from the assistant commissioner of the region. 

Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy delivered an update to members of the joint-policing committee of Dublin City Council this afternoon. 

His report, circulated to committee members and seen by TheJournal.ie, documents a 20% increase in the number of murders in the capital, an increase of 9% in recorded sexual offences, and an increase of 21% in overall drug offences. 

Other major issues raised at the meeting included begging offences on the streets of the capital and garda resources in the area. 

In relation to sexual offences, Leahy said he is happy that the figure of recorded offences has increased because it suggests more people are coming forward to report the crime. 

“Sexual offences are up, across the city they are up 9% at the moment and in terms of the detection rate, the detection rate is quite low,” he said. 

“I’m quite happy to see the actual number go up because I think it reflects more on the access that victims are getting and the environment being created. It would be expected that we are going to get more reports and that’s what we wanted. ”

His report, however, comes on the same day that CSO figures show almost nine in 10 cases sexual offence cases in 2018 have still not received an outcome. 

Speaking at this afternoon’s meeting, Independent councillor Mannix Flynn said an increase in assaults and low detection rates is a serious concern for residents and tourists in the capital. 

“I am concerned about these offences and sexual assaults. I am concerned about the amount of people who are reporting, and I am also really concerned about the amount of people who don’t report,” he said. 

“Most people who are assaulted don’t really want to report it. Males certainly won’t report it and females of different categories and ages again have an apprehension about it. 

“I have had a lot of constituents in my area who are very afraid going to work in the morning and very afraid coming home.”

There has also been an increase in the number of murders at 18 in the Dublin Metropolitan region so far in 2019, compared to the 15 in the previous year. 

The report said: “while I am constrained in discussing particulars of the cases for operational reasons, I wish to assure this committee that all investigations are fully resourced and are making progress.”

Crimes against the person are up 14%, criminal damage incidents are up 7%, public order offences are up 13%, and drug offences are up 21%. 

POLICE AUTHORITY 758A8432 Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy (L) with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (R) last year. Source: Eamonn Farrell

Begging

A reduction of 35% in begging offences was recorded by An Garda Síochana in the Dublin region but councillors remain concerned that there appears to be no visible reduction on the streets, and that criminals are using “intimidation” as a tactic when committing begging offences. 

“On the issue of begging, you say offences are down 35% but the lived experience in the city is that they’re massively increasing,” Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Fitzpatrick said. 

“You have to navigate around people begging on the streets and it’s not people who could be availing of charitable services like Brother Kevin’s and the like.”

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The commissioner said that although “the offences show begging is down [...] in the last three months, you can see the trend is going up and I suspect it will go higher again over the Christmas period”. 

Leahy said weak legislation in the area of tackling begging and previous setbacks from bringing charges has lead to difficulties and keeping this figure low. 

“We’ve taken it on as an issue, it’s quite a sensitive area and not easy to police, I can tell you that now.”

Drugs

The number of drug offences in the Dublin region have increase 21%, according to the commissioner. 

This involved an increase of 16% relating to possession of drugs for sale or supply and an increase of 20% in possession for personal use.

Gardaí also carried out 31,923 searches in relation to drug offences in the Dublin region so far in 2019. 

“Since 2016, we’ve seen approximately €130 million worth of drugs seized in the capital, we’ve seized over 1,200 firearms, everything you can imagine, and just over 350 other types of weapons were taken off the streets,” Leahy said. 

The number of garda personnel employed in the Dublin region has increased by over 300 in the past year, with Leahy expecting this to rise further in the coming year to grow resources and tackle rising crime figures. 

This week an additional 90 gardaí were deployed to Dublin. 

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