Cork bucks trend with serious crime hike

CANNABIS cultivation, sexual assaults and petty theft rose significantly across Cork last year, bucking a trend which saw a major fall-off in most crime across the county.

Figures released by senior gardaí at the joint policing committee meeting yesterday show that despite a drop in most aspects of crime, communities in Cork are continuing to face the threat of serious crime.

According to annual statistics for the Cork west, city and north garda divisions, cultivation of cannabis is becoming a growing issue in the county.

In Cork city, chief superintendent Michael Finn, revealed that there has been a 220% rise in known cultivation units in the past 12 months, from five cases in 2008, to 12 in 2009.

Similarly, in Cork north, cultivation cases rose by 100% over the period, from five to 10, while in Cork west, the number of arrests fell marginally from 18 to 16.

Drug sale and supply arrests also rose in the city last year, from 215 to 240 cases, but fell in other areas.

However, despite the overall drop in street drug usage across Cork in 2009, almost 5,000 drug-related offences were reported throughout the county last year.

While a fall in drink-driving levels, public order offences and fatal or serious traffic collisions above and beyond national trends was apparent, the figures also indicated that the risk of serious sexual assault and rape is continuing to cast a shadow over Cork communities.

A total of 79 sexual offences were reported in Cork city during 2009, down from 99 in 2008, with 34 in Cork north, up from 33 during the same period, and 33 in Cork west, up from 28.

During the same 12 months, detection rates for the offence in the city fell from 70% to 49%, and from 72% to 55% in Cork west, with Cork north reporting an increased detection rate, from 39% to 71%.

According to the garda statistics, petty theft is also on the rise, with 1,706 cases of theft from a shop in the city, 346 in Cork north, and 183 recorded in Cork west last year.

As a result of the figures, gardaí have called on the public to be aware of the potential risks around them, including leaving expensive items near a car or house window.

They have also repeated advice on the need for people to take safe levels of alcohol when socialising and to keep in close contact with the group they are out with in order to lessen the risk of a potential assault.

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