Wexford Gardai are encouraging young people to think before they act in a new campaign aimed at reducing the number of assaults on the county's streets.
'Use Your Brain, Not Your Fists' is a nationwide garda initiative targeting those most likely to offend through public awareness and engagement. The local campaign is being coordinated by Crime Prevention Officer, Sgt Brendan Moore and community policing garda Anne-Marie Doyle.
Garda Doyle explained that the target group is young males, aged between 18 and 39, as statistics had shown that 83% of assaults were carried out by men in this age bracket. Intoxicants, she said, played a large role in such incidents.
Sgt Moore said: 'The Wexford figures are no higher than anywhere else but one assault is one too many. We will be targeting the peak times for such incidents, which is 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends. We want to engage with those who fall into this demographic and we will have a highly visible presence in areas where such incidents might happen.'
Garda Doyle pointed out that they were asking people to be vigilant with their own safety and to report assaults, explaining that only 55% of assaults, approximately, were actually reported.
Sgt Moore added that they were trying to send out a message to young people to be more responsible for their actions: 'We're not saying people can't enjoy themselves but they should take necessary precautions and be aware of the consequences if they don't. Similarly, we are asking people to be streetwise and not to present opportunities for potential attacks - be mindful of your personal property, don't walk home alone, and always have a charged phone.'
He pointed out that every such incident had a knock-on effect on other emergency services, such as the ambulance and the A&E in the local hospital.
Garda Doyle pointed out that as well as the physical and mental effects an assault could have on both the perpetrator and their victim, there were other consequences too.
'Often, what Gardai are seeing are 'one punch attacks' from people who might never come to garda attention before or again. Their lives are totally changed from one stupid decision. They could lose their job, their right to travel and work abroad, even go to jail.'
The campaign is ongoing across the country.