Drunk driving down, but theft and drugs on the rise

Tess Felder

Tess Felder

The level of drunk-driving in Kilkenny has decreased in the first three months of 2011, a trend that has been welcomed by Supt Mick Nevin, although he said An Garda Síochána is “never going to become complacent” about preventing it.

“People are starting to take cognisance of the drunk-driving legislation, and generally it is a good picture that emerges,” he told Kilkenny Borough Council’s joint policing committee last week.

In the Kilkenny Garda district, there has been a decrease of 14% in drunk-driving in the year to date, although gardaí are still arresting an average of three to four people a week for the offence.

“People who are now engaging in drunk driving are going against the trend that we are experiencing in Kilkenny,” Supt Nevin said.

He also pointed out that in the first quarter of this year there were no fatalities or serious traffic accidents in the district.

In the past 12 months to date, the numbers of crimes reported increased by 8%, he said, but in the first quarter of this year the number of incidents reported decreased by 19%.

There are still some areas of concern in relation to crimes in Kilkenny, according to the superintendent.

“We are concerned about the number of incidents of theft from cars,” he said. Over the past 12-month period, such “opportunistic” thefts are up 29%.

Often in such incidents, a car owner has left personal property such as a handbag in plain view. “We would ask people to be a lot more conscious about that type of thing,” Supt Nevin said.

Shoplifting in the city saw a 7% increase in the past 12 months, meanwhile, but was down for the first three months of this year.

As with so many areas in Ireland, drugs continue to be a problem. The district has seen a 22% increase in the sale and supply of drugs in the past 12 months; and a 14% increase in incidents of drugs for personal use in the same period.

“The trend was that there was a slight dip in the first three months of this year, but we are concerned about the prevalence of drugs,” Supt Nevin said.

Another concern to gardaí is the increasing number of incidents of criminal damage such as broken windows and graffiti. There was a 42% increase in the first three months of this year, with over 100 incidents reported in that time.

Non-crime-related incidents – such as missing persons, sudden deaths, suicides, minor traffic collisions, inspections of licences premises, and anti-social behaviour – were up 29% on the year to date, totalling about 7,500 annually, according to Supt Nevin.