Drug detections are up but overall, the pandemic and associated lockdowns have led to a reduction in most crimes according to the latest local and national crime figures.
At Monday's online meeting of the Leitrim Joint Policing Committee, Sligo/Leitrim Division Superintendent, Aidan Glacken, highlighted comparative crime figures for the first three months of 2021.
He noted that the lack of a night time economy and the fact that criminals were restricted in their movements around the country as a result of the lockdowns, has resulted in a drop in recorded crimes in particular those associated with the night time economy, theft and criminal damage.
He said that the increased visible presence of An Garda Siochana at checkpoints and patrols was also a “great deterrent for criminal activity”.
He noted increases in drug driving detections this year and said this increase in detections was partially down to improvements in technology used to detect such offences. However he stressed the “very high levels of trauma and harm” potentially resulting from drug driving, urging people to think before they got behind the wheel.
He noted that there has been an increase in domestic violence incidents reported in Leitrim and increases have also been seen in the notification of child welfare concerns to Tusla.
He said gardai remain very aware of the sensitivities of such cases and had a achieved a 90% call back on all domestic violence reports in Leitrim within seven days of initial contact.
Chief Superintendent Glacken praised the “great levels of Covid-19 restriction compliance” across Co Leitrim and also praised the community efforts supported by the Covid Community Forum, Leitrim County Council, the GAA and numerous other groups.
He noted that over 100 community welfare checks have been carried out in the first three months of this year.
2020 national crime figures
A similar trend was also reflected in national crime figures for 2020 released by the Central Statistics Office this week.
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, said: “The upheaval caused by Covid-19 delivered a significant interruption to crime patterns in 2020 and the finding that burglary, theft and robbery related offences are at their lowest volumes since the CSO began publishing crime statistics from 2003 is very welcome.
“I also welcome the recorded drop in reports of crimes against the person such as attempts/threats to murder, assault and harassment offences.
“However, it is important that we keep in mind that these figures reflect a period when the country spent significant periods in lockdown and there will be no relaxation in the collective effort of the Government and Gardaí to suppress crime as our communities emerge from these restrictions.”
The Minister added: “While decreases can be seen in the overall reported levels of crimes against the person, I am very conscious of the particular risks which Covid-19 has presented for those at risk of domestic violence. Since the start of the pandemic, An Garda Síochána have prioritised domestic abuse incidents through Operation Faoiseamh and in doing so have proactively targeted perpetrators and provided enhanced support to victims of domestic abuse.”
She noted the nationwide rollout of the Divisional Protective Services Units (DPSU) and said their availability “in every division means there are now specially trained officers available nationwide who are responsible for engagement with and interviewing vulnerable victims.”
Recorded offences in relation to drugs increased in a number of categories. Controlled drug offences rose by 9.1% compared to 2019, with an increase both in possession for simple possession and drugs for sale or supply contributing the highest volume to the increase.
She paid tribute to gardai for the marked increase in detection of cultivation or manufacture of drugs but also expressed concern over the “substantial increase” in the number of recorded incidents of driving while under the influence of drugs.