Sunday 20 January 2019

Crimes, damned crimes and Garda statistics

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Editorial

Editorial

All day long the news bulletins proclaimed a reversal in the burglary trend.

The Garda Press Office proclaimed burglaries nationally fell by 23pc during November and December under the winter phase of Operation Thor, according to provisional figures.

The decline is based on the comparison between November and December with the month of October, when burglaries hit the peak.

The trend was the same throughout the year with an increase in break-ins. Gardaí attribute the decrease to its new targeted operation.

The spate of burglaries and the criminal activities of travelling gangs has been high on the news agenda over the Christmas period, with violent attacks on elderly people in their homes, particularly in rural Ireland.

Any special operation to hit back at these gangs is an appropriate and worthwhile way to allocate resources.

Law-abiding people across the country will be glad to hear of any successful prosecutions in this area and any reduction in burglaries. However, will anyone in fear of a break-in sleep any more easily tonight? Probably not.

The overall statistics tell a wider story.

The reduction in burglaries over recent months really only brings us back where we started before the 2017 spike.

The number of burglaries for December was 1,424 - only a small reduction on the 2016 monthly average of 1,496. No full monthly breakdown was provided for 2016 and 2017.

Besides, the credibility of Garda crime statistics is now under scrutiny.

If the winter phase of Operation Thor was effective, then there is an imperative on Garda management to ensure it continues to be adequately resourced.

After the return to school and work, peak flu kicks in

Are we at peak flu yet?

Possibly not.

Flu levels trebled in a week as the country returned to work and school.

Some 20,000 infected patients sought treatment in GP surgeries, while hundreds more were admitted to overcrowded hospitals.

The new figures suggest this latest round is certainly more severe than last winter's outbreak, with more adults than children being struck down with the illness.

Children were the main victims of the virus immediately after Christmas. But the potentially fatal infection is currently sweeping through the older age groups as they return to work.

It is also particularly affecting pensioners over 65, the HSE warned. And there is also a high rate among babies under a year old.

HSE head of public health Dr Kevin Kelleher says the flu may peak next week or could have already reached its worst levels in recent days. But it will continue to circulate at intense levels for another four to six weeks.

Flu is now considered "widespread" in all part of the country, except for the Midlands counties.

The post-Christmas return to work and school was expected to result in a higher level of infection.

Based on the current trends, flu season is likely to surpass the experience of recent years. It means there'll be no excuses in future years for a failure to plan ahead.

Irish Independent

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