Over 60 people are prosecuted every month for fighting, drunkenness and other offences on the capital’s main thoroughfare.
Of the 18 roughest streets surveyed over a two-year period, the National Crime Council-commissioned report found a quarter of all offences, or two a night, happened on Dublin’s main street.
The number of offences on O’Connell Street is three times that of the next highest, Parnell Street and four times that of Grafton Street.
Gardaí who work in the city centre said they were not surprised by the figures, particularly as O’Connell Street is the busiest, longest and widest street in Dublin and a magnet for youngsters. Work on the report, by a team from UCD’s Institute of Criminology, began two years ago. Researchers were given access to garda records, including those from the force’s new computer system PULSE.
In addition, they spent 200 hours observing members at work at two sites in Dublin and carried out 50 interviews. But researchers were denied access to some detailed PULSE information. None of the information from the drinks’ trade or insurance industry was relevant.
The public order offences studied were those committed under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act of 1994, less serious acts prosecuted in the lower District Court. Tens of thousands are prosecuted every year but many more people who could be summonsed are let off with a warning by gardaí on the ground.
The vast majority of offences were recorded as happening on the street but it is not clear if they occurred outside licensed premises or takeaways. According to PULSE, no public order offence recorded between October, 2001 and March, 2002 occurred in a pub or nightclub.
However, researchers shadowing gardaí recorded more than 40% of offences either inside or outside a pub.