GOREY has been labelled a ' blackspot' for crime, after the revelation that burglaries have spiralled by almost one third in the past year. This comes at a time when Garda force in the Gorey District has lost seven personnel in the past two years.
Chief Supt John Roche revealed at a Joint Policing Committee meeting yesterday (Monday) that burglaries are up a shocking 29 per cent in the Gorey area in the past 12 months. He went on to confirm that the seven officers in and around Gorey who retired over the past two years have yet to be replaced. This figure includes the sergeant and a garda in Courtown, effectively cutting the personnel dedicated to Courtown from four to two. A CHANGE in the way County Wexford people are socialising has led to a rise in assaults that take place in the home and a drop in public disorder on the streets.
Assaults in housing estates, homes and schools are up by 8% while public order offences are down by 17%.
According to Garda Chief Superintendent John Roche, the reduction in public disorder is possibly due to the recession and a decline in town centre activity at night.
' The assaults are taking place in domestic dwellings, housing estates and schools. I wonder is it linked to our drink culture. We are seeing more violence out of town.'
The Garda boss was giving an end-of-year report to the Joint Policing Committee of Wexford County Council. He said overall in County Wexford assaults are up by 8% and public order offences are down by 17%.
The total number of assaults reported during the year was 383.
Assaults in the Wexford area were up 28% during 2012 and in Enniscorthy they rose by 24% over the previous year. Incidents of assault were down by a massive 28% in New Ross and up by just 2% in Gorey.
The total number of assaults reported in Wexford during the past year was 145 while in Enniscorthy it was 89.
Overall in the county there was a 5% increase in general burglaries including break-ins to cars and thefts of oil and metal.
Burglaries to houses and businesses rose by 14% across the county.
Wexford and Gorey were the burglary blackspots with a massive 36% in the Wexford area ( including holiday homes in coastal locations) and a 29% rise in Gorey.
Burglaries in Enniscorthy were up 8% while New Ross was the only area to record a reduction with 15% less than in 2011.
The Garda chief told councillors that Wexford is not a violent division. During the year there were 13 reported violent robberies including nine involving a weapon. Four involved the theft of mobile phones from people.
Drug possession offences were down by 15% although there is an increased trend towards cannabis cultivation. During 2012, the gardai dealt with 315 drug possession cases involving possession for personal use or sale and supply.
In relation to traffic, the Garda chief said it was ' a bad year' for road fatalities. Nine people were killed on County Wexford roads in 2012, up four on the previous year. The fatalities included four drivers and four front seat passengers of cars and one cyclist. This is in contrast to a reduction of 25 in road deaths nationally.
Drink driving figures stayed relatively static with a one per cent decrease, and the trend appears to be continuing into this January.
Cllr. Declan McPartlin commented that Gorey seems to be a blackspot for crime and asked about the level of garda presence in the area.
The Chief Superintendent replied that seven officers retired in Gorey over the past two years including four in the last 12 months.
'I'm missing seven that have not been replaced, including two in Courtown,' he said.
Deputy John Browne T.D. raised a similar question about Enniscorthy. ' There seems to be a serious reduction in gardai in the Enniscorthy area. Have we the same level of gardai as other areas of the county?' he asked.
Deputy Browne also said the number of assaults in Enniscorthy has substantially increased. ' Young people are now going with slabs of beer and spending their time drinking in houses around the town. At least in the pubs, the manager and staff would have control,' he told the meeting.
The Fianna Fáil T.D. said there has been an increase in stabbings and attempted stabbings in houses around the area.
The Chief Superintendent replied that there have been seven retirements in Enniscorthy.
Two of these have been replaced with temporary posts but the area is five officers down.
Referring to the closure of Kiltealy garda station, he said Bunclody will play a significant role in policing Kiltealy under an amalgamation of Enniscorthy and Gorey districts and a re-drawing of sub-district boundaries.
The future policing of Kiltealy will be carried out by Enniscorthy, Bunclody and a section of New Ross. It will no longer be policed by a permanent garda.
Cllr. McPartlin asked him if there was a ' morale problem' among the gardai in County Wexford due to recent cut-backs. The Garda boss said a new roster had been introduced and gardai are 'going the extra mile' to ensure that it works.
'We are meeting our commitments under the Croke Park Agreement. We delivered right on budget in Wexford this year.'
'We are operating with less manpower and less resources but our gardai are going the extra mile and I thank them for that,' he said.
' There is a commitment in the Garda Siochana to serve the community as it has done for the past 80 years and that will continue.'
Cllr. Pat Codd said the Council should thank the gardai for the work they are doing.