Kerry's problem with public order

Garda at assault scene.
Garda at assault scene.

Simon Brouder

WHILE Kerry is generally a remarkably safe and law abiding county garda statistics from the last two years show there is a significant problem with public order offences in The Kingdom.

Both overall crime figures for Kerry in 2012 issued by the Central Statistics Office and a breakdown of Kerry crime rates on a station by station basis for 2011 compiled by the All-Ireland Research Observatory (AIRO) in Maynooth show that public order offences are significant problem right across the county.

Last year across Kerry Gardaí dealt with 5,398 crimes of which 2,153, two fifths of the total, were public order matters such as drunk, disorderly and threatening behaviour, failure to follow garda orders or creating a general nuisance.

The figure for the previous year is similar with public order offences accounting to 2,218 of the 5,725 crimes investigated across the county in 2011.

Figures obtained by The Kerryman for that year show that most of these public order offences are confined to Kerry's larger towns with Tralee and Killarney accounting for the vast majority.

The AIRO figures, the most recent station by station crime data available, show that of the 2,218 public order offences recorded in 2011, 812 occurred in Tralee and 601 were recorded in Killarney while there were 302 such offences in Listowel. In fact in 2011 Tralee was the eighth busiest garda station in the entire country when it came to dealing with public order offences.

Thankfully while public order is an issue across the county Kerry does not suffer unduly from high levels of serious crime with relatively low levels of drug offences, assaults, burglaries or sexual offences recorded here.

Drug offences have fallen off dramatically from a peak of 590 in 2008 to just 301 in 2012. Similarly sexual offences have plummeted from a high of 124 in 2010 to 59 in 2012.

The number of threats, assaults and incidents of harassment has also fallen significantly in recent years in Kerry with 477 recorded across the county last year compared with 587 in 2008.

Again while there is a smattering of serious crime across the county most serious offending appears concentrated in the county's major towns.

Tralee accounted for almost half of the drug offences in Kerry in 2011 with 171 of the 359 recorded drug crimes in the county taking place in the town. The county capital also accounted for 168 of the 464 incidents of assault, threats to kill or harassment and 34 of the 89 recorded weapons offences.

In Killarney in 2011 there were 84 drug offences, 84 assaults, threats or incidents of harassment and 21 weapons offences. Meanwhile in the same period in Listowel gardaí dealt with 22 drug offences, 37 assaults threats or incidents of harassment and 10 weapons offences.

Kerry also has remarkably low levels of theft and while the issue is a problem, especially for businesses, it is far less prevalent than across the rest of the country.

Last year Kerry had the second lowest level of theft in the state with 941 cases recorded across the entire county. The previous year was slightly higher with 1,000 incidents recorded, again the majority of these were in Tralee And Killarney though this is not entirely surprising the towns are Kerry's most populous and busiest towns and between them contain hundreds of shops. Tralee accounted for 442 of the 1,000 thefts recorded in 2011 while Killarney had 225.


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