The number of assaults using knives in Cork City has dropped by 50% since gardaí launched a knife crime initiative last year.
Gardaí released the figures yesterday after calls from Sinn Féin for Garda action in the wake of two fatal stabbings in the city last weekend. A third man was injured in a stabbing incident on Monday.
One of the fatal stabbings and the Monday stabbing were linked to domestic disputes.
Gardaí described the incidents as isolated and said they are not linked.
The spate of attacks prompted Sinn Féin’s justice spokesperson, Cork North Central TD Jonathan O’Brien, to call for immediate Garda action.
He also called on Justice Minister Alan Shatter to rethink his strategy of cutting Garda numbers and closing stations.
“The fact that two people died over the weekend in separate knife incidents is extremely worrying, but meanwhile, the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner are quite happy to reduce the opening hours of Garda stations and close others. It simply isn’t acceptable,” he said.
He called for extra Garda resources to be deployed in Cork with a proactive approach to tackling knife crime.
“We need to tackle the culture that sees young people feel that it is necessary and acceptable to carry knives on them as they go about their daily lives,” he said.
“I would propose a knife crime awareness and education campaign which would include a type of knife amnesty for the Cork area that has been successful in other areas before.”
The PSNI ran a similar initiative in the North in 2006, which resulted in 900 knives being handed in, leading to a 30% drop in knife crime.
But gardaí in Cork said they ran a knife awareness campaign last October, which saw extra high-visibility Garda patrols on the streets to detect people carrying knives.
People were warned that anybody carrying knives for anything other than recreational use would be arrested and brought before the courts.
Last night, gardaí released figures for the Cork City division which showed that knife crime dropped 50% as a direct result of the initiative.
Chief Superintendent Michael Finn also pointed out that no Garda stations have been closed in Cork city so far this year, and that Garda numbers in Cork city are only 10 fewer than in 2007 — from a force of 576 to 566.
“Resources are not an issue in this regard,” he said.
In the first three months of 2011, just over 12% of robberies or assaults in Cork City involved knives or other sharp objects.
Many of these incidents occurred late on a Saturday night or early Sunday, and among the items seized by gardaí, or used in crimes, were a meat cleaver, a sword, a machete, handsaw, scissors and a slash hook.
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