Refurbishing cells in a Garda station in Cork City resulted in an increase in assaults because gardaí were tied up taking prisoners to outlying stations.
Senior gardaí said that assaults in the city increased by 62% from November 14 to January 15, compared to the corresponding period 12 months earlier.
The total number of minor assaults perpetrated rose to 242 from 149.
Chief Superintendent Michael Finn, who is in charge of policing the city, said there was a necessity to refurbish the cells at the Bridewell Garda Station.
It is the only station in the city centre which has cells, as the Garda headquarters at Anglesea Street has no holdings facilities.
People being arrested, especially at weekend nights when there is usually more drink-related trouble, had to be taken to Mayfield, Gurranabraher or Togher Garda Stations because the Bridewell station was closed.
This resulted in gardaí being tied up as they transported prisoners and processed them at the three outlying stations.
That reduced the Garda presence on city centre streets during peak periods.
Because there was less of a deterrent more fights broke out, which led to the increase in reported assaults.
The increase was most noticeable in the two months prior to Christmas when the work was being carried out at the Bridewell Garda Station.
During construction some asbestos was found in the cells.
This didn’t present a danger to former prisoners as it was not broken up and it was later removed safely.
Senior gardaí also revealed at a meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that there had been an increase in reported sexual assaults of 29%.
Chief Supt Finn said a number of the 22 cases reported in November 2014 to January 2015 were historic sexual assaults.
Possession of drugs for sale or supply rose from 40 to 54 cases, up 35%.
Many other crime figures were down, which gardaí expressed satisfaction about. These included arson, criminal damage, public order and drunkenness offences.
There were five fatal accidents over the recent period, which was up from two.
The number of material damage incidents to cars following accidents rose from 729 to 804.
Councillors expressed concern that despite a continuous campaign to stamp out drink driving many motorists were still not heeding the call.
The number arrested on suspicion of drink driving was up 3% from 76 to 78.
Chief Supt Finn said mandatory drink-driving checkpoints held in the mornings showed that very few people were over the limit.
He said people were more likely to get caught breaking the law at night.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved