Supt. Kevin English told a meeting of the Co Leitrim Joint Policing Committee it is a matter of concern to him that there has been a significant rise in the number of people being arrested for driving under the influence.
Supt. English outlined crime figures for 2017 (to date) and admitted it is a worry and he questioned the attitude of people who feel it is acceptable to get behind the wheel of a car with excess alcohol. He warned it is an area of policing that will be watched closely by An Garda Siochana.
The meeting heard a wide-ranging discussion on policing within the county with provisional crime figures for this year to date showing an increase in assaults in the county as a whole but a reduction of same in the largest town, Carrick-on-Shannon.
The figures showed that public order offences were down in the county and even more so in the county town, Carrick-on-Shannon.
Assaults in Leitrim were up but again Carrick-on-Shannon showed a significant reduction on the 2016 figures. Assaults were up in the Ballinamore area.
Criminal damage showed a rise as well while there were a significant rise in burglaries in Carrick-on-Shannon in the early part of this year with one individual responsible for three quarters of those burglaries. The man is currently in custody.
There was also a significant increase in burglaries in the Manorhamilton area with a substantial amount of cash being taken from a house in the Glenfarne area.
Supt. English said they have made a number of arrests in the Manorhamilton area which includes a cross border element.
“We have got huge help from members of the community and I want to acknowledge the huge cooperation of the public. We certainly would not have a lot of success we have had without that help,” he said.
Gardai are going to have to look at increasing their visibility in the community, not just at night time but also throughout daylight hours when some of these burglaries occur, he stated.
“I am not happy with it and it is going to receive special attention,” Supt. English assured the public.
Thefts from shops showed a slight increase also.
In relation to road safety issues there has been one road fatality so far this year. Serious injuries from road traffic accidents increased but non-serious injuries were down significantly.
The amount of arrests for drink driving showed a marked increase and this is an area Supt. English said concerns him.
He strongly criticised people who feel it is acceptable to get behind the wheel of a car with excess alcohol and said there needs to be a change in driver behaviour.
Supt. English also expressed the view that they need to merge all the community text alert schemes in the county to further reduce crime in the county.
There are currently 17 text alert groups in Leitrim and it is one of his main objectives to bring all the groups under the one umbrella in the first quarter of next year to maximise the potential to cut crime in the community.
Supt. English also addressed the issue of crime prevention and said that some people still persist in storing substantial amounts of cash in their house.
He said there has to be some alternative means of securing their money and it is important the Gardai get that crime prevention advice out there.