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Gardai make 14,000 drugs spot searches

CITY centre gardai carried out 14,000 spot searches last year as part of a blitz on weapon and drug possession.

Officers have been told to adopt an "in-your-face" approach to policing when on street duties, the Herald has learned.

Garda chiefs have ordered both uniformed and undercover gardai to carry out random spot searches as part of a clampdown on drugs and knives.

Record

The number of spot searches in the city centre area has now reached record levels – with about 14,000 in 2012.

This means that around 40 people are searched every day by gardai.

The figure represents a huge increase on 2011 – when just 4,000 searches were carried out.

Gardai use the Misuse of Drugs Act to carry out searches, which can retrieve banned substances and any other weapon or object officers deem dangerous.

"It is an aggressive policy to have but it is the right one, especially when you're talking about the main thoroughfare of the city," a source said about the latest figures.

"We know that people are dealing drugs and carrying weapons, so the one way to deal with that is to tackle it head on by getting in these lads' faces and searching them over and over again."

The crackdown by gardai has seen a 20pc reduction in weapon seizures since it was launched last year.

A source said: "It's very simple really – when people know they are in an area where they are very likely to be searched, they won't carry around knifes or other weapons.

"It means tourists and members of the public are safer when they shop or go about their business."

Meanwhile, city gardai have reported a massive surge in the number of people found to be dealing prescription drugs – particularly sleeping pills – in parts of the city.

Dealing

While officers are finding these drugs during searches, they are effectively powerless at combating the dealing of prescription medicines without legislation in place.

Store Street Garda Station is currently engaging with drug treatment centres on a regular basis in a bid to deal with emerging trends.

Officers based in the city station are referring anyone arrested who is in need of drug treatment services to the correct service provider.

noconnor@herald.ie


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