Derek Hughes has recently taken up his post as Superintendent of the Thomastown District and has vowed to make South Kilkenny 'an inhospitable place for criminals'.
Supt Hughes is familiar with this large rural hinterland and was stationed as a sergeant in the Thomastown area from 2009 until 2011. His grandmother also came from Thomastown and he has extended family in the area.
“I am delighted to be appointed as Superintendent for the Thomastown District. I am very familiar with the area and in my most recent role as Detective Inspector I had responsibility for crime in Thomastown.
Further crackdown on crime
“I am very proud of the fact that by the end of 2015 the number of burglaries had reduced by almost 30% and hopefully we will have a similar outcome this year.
“This reduction was achieved as a result of the close co-operation which we have with the local community and the information that they give us. There were two recent examples which showed this - the post office robbery in Mullinavat which was solved in no small part by the actions of the public and the crime spree in Stoneyford which was solved by information provided by a member of the public. The criminals in both incidents were remanded in custody following garda objections to bail and this eliminated the opportunity for them to commit further crime.
“My aim is to make the Thomastown district a very inhospitable place for criminals and the gardaí in Thomastown will achieve this through checkpoint activity and by intelligence-led community policing operations,” he said.
Fatalities on the roads
The superintendent stated that there were three fatal accidents in the district since January and he stressed that this is 'of huge concern' to him.
“In an effort to reverse the trend we will be increasing our speed checks and our mandatory alcohol check points in an effort to ensure that everyone who is using our roads is doing so in a correct and safe manner.
The importance of public co-operation is also highlighted in the context of resources especially in a large and often sparsely-populated district.
“There are adequate resources in terms of to police the district. My wish is to have a guard in every townland but as it is a large rural area that is not possible which again highlights the need for close co-operation between the public and the gardaí,” he said.
A number of community engagement forums will start in September with the first forum being held next month. Community text alert schemes in the district have also been very successful and have proved instrumental in both the reporting of crime and bringing culprits to justice before the courts.
“It is important that we learn from people what their particular needs and concerns are. At present there are adequate resources in terms of transport and personnel and we can secure extra resources from the division as required. We have no issue with transport resources.”
“I hope that over the last year that the people of Thomastown and the surrounding areas have noticed an increase in checkpoint activity targeting criminals and this bolsters a feeling of public confidence,” he added.
The Dublin native passed out of the Garda Training College in Templemore in 1998 and was previously stationed in Clondalkin, Kilmainham, the National Bureau for Criminal Investigation and Store Street in Dublin.
He was stationed as a sergeant in the Thomastown District from 2009 to 2011 and worked in the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit. He was promoted to the rank of Detective Inspector of the Carlow/Kilkenny Division in 2013.
It is clear that Superintendent Hughes realises the importance of engagement with the local community and emphasises that the door of his office is always open should any member of the public want to meet with him.