The most recent lockdown has seen a significant rise in incidents of domestic violence reported to gardai in Leitrim according to provisional figures provided at Monday's meeting of the Leitrim Joint Policing Committee (JPC).
It was noted there has be a 65% increase in reports of domestic violence in the year to date for 2021 compared to the same period last year.
Cllr Mary Bohan described the increase as “very disappointing to hear” adding that it marked a “very worrying trend”.
Gardaí noted that the increase in Leitrim is also reflected in the national figures.
Leitrim gardai work with a number of specialised agencies to help support those impacted by domestic violence and any reports to gardai are responded to with a callback within seven days.
Gardai also provide those reporting domestic violence, both males and females, with information packs and also links to supports such as the Domestic Violence Advocacy Service in Sligo.
Cllr Bohan observed that the lockdown put additional pressures on women already at risk of violence in particular, noting that there was little escape for those working and living with a violent partner.
Impact of Covid-19 lockdown on other crimes
However, the lockdown has impacted other criminal activity positively. Figures, comparing the first 11 weeks of 2020 with the same period in 2021, revealed that the number of burglaries are down by almost half when compared to figures for the same period last year. There has also been a drop in the number of assaults causing harm which are down by over 50% on last year's figures.
There has also been a drop in the number of assaults, down by nearly a quarter and assaults causing harm down by over 50% in Leitrim in comparison to the same period
Thefts are also down on figures for 2020 with drops in the number of thefts from shops and from individuals.
Thankfully, there have been no fatalities on Leitrim roads to date this year although there has been three serious road traffic accidents.
Checkpoints for drunk and drug driving continued throughout the lockdown and it was noted that there have been 12 drug driving detections for the year to date which marks a substantial increase on figures for 2020.
Increase in drug searches
As part of ongoing efforts to curb the sale and supply of drugs in Leitrim, the number of drug searches has increased year on year with nearly a 120% increase in the number of searches under the Misuse of Drugs Act carried out in the first 11 weeks of this year in comparison to the same date in 2020.
Of these, the majority of finds were for incidents of simple possession but nearly a quarter of all finds were for sale and supply.
Leitrim's Superintendent, Chris Grogan, told the JPC that there has been a number of successful and significant seizures in the Leitrim area with drugs with a value of €10,000 seized along with €9,000 in cash from a property in Carrick-on- Shannon.
In March this year Leitrim Gardaí arrested a motorist following the discovery of €16,000 worth of cocaine in his vehicle during a roadside stop.
Superintendent Grogan said that there had been a “lot of movement in vehicles” during the lockdown as “substances are easily transported” this way.
He said that criminals are engaging in “needle in a haystack tactics” moving drugs on busy roads but stressed that gardai are committed to finding and stopping this sort of criminal activity.
He acknowledged the presence of criminal gangs and said that the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) had 21 profiles in progress on individuals in this area.
As part of the coming Bank Holiday Weekend Leitrim gardai will be targeting drink driving offences. The operation will run between June 5 and June 7. A number of checkpoints are planned and people are advised to not drink and drive and ensure you give yourself plenty of time to eliminate alcohol from your system before you get behind the wheel the following day. Stay safe.
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