A “THREE-headed monster” featuring the drugs trade, new connections between former paramilitaries and criminal gangs and recessionary times has spawned a surge in crimes such as robbery, extortion and prostitution.
Figures revealed by the Central Statistics Office show that despite the financial focus on banks and big business, the real impact of the economic downturn is being seen on streets and in homes across the country.
Between April to June 2009 and April to June 2010, there was a 33.9% rise in robbery, extortion and hijacking cases dealt with by Gardaí, the CSO stated.
During the same period, the number of prostitution cases witnessed a massive 142.9% year-on-year surge, while kidnapping rose by 13.2%.
The figures show that every day over the past three months, five people and three banks, post offices or shops were robbed.
This level of crime included six cash/goods-in-transit robberies (up 100% on the same period in 2009), 489 personal robberies (up 61.4%), six cases of blackmail or extortion (up 100%) and 32 car-jackings (up 23.1%). In addition, prostitution cases rose from 21 in the second quarter of 2009 to 51 this year.
The Department of Justice has described a drop in aggravated burglary (down 22% to 64), murder (down 20% to 12), drink driving (down 22.8% to 2,911) and firearm possession (down 21.8% to 79) as a success.
However, a rise in theft from a person (up 13% to 748), theft from a shop (up 2.7% to 5,511), cultivation of drugs (up 96.9% to 128), and sex assaults (up 52.3% to 585 and linked to a re-categorisation of garda files) indicates that Ireland’s streets are becoming awash with petty crime and assault.
Reacting to the findings, Labour justice spokesman, Pat Rabbitte, said the rise in street crime was linked to a “three-headed monster” of recessionary times, the drugs trade and new connections between former paramilitaries and criminal gangs.
“There is truth in the fact the recession is contributing to an increase in this type of crime. It’s also due to other things, such as crime that has its origin in the drugs trade that has corroded our society and invited additional people into the criminal fraternity, and former paramilitaries who have linked up with criminal gangs. We are dealing with a three-headed monster and it’s very difficult to combat.”
Mr Rabbitte said there is a growing need to further fund Gardaí, which he said last year’s Garda Inspectorate report found were “woefully lacking in some areas of modern equipment”.
However, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern insisted adequate efforts are being made to tackle the problem.
“An Garda Síochána will continue to develop and implement strategies to target those committing such crimes, which are often carried out against vulnerable members of the community.”
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