Drugs offences and possession of offensive weapons incidents surged in Cork city since January as the lockdown contributed to declines in property crime and crimes against the person.
During the height of the pandemic, 15 breaches of the Covid-19 Infectious Diseases (powers under the Health Act 1947) were recorded in the Cork city division, with over 100 crimes detected as a result of 1,100 Covid-19 garda patrols and 334 checkpoints.
But there was a 24% increase in bike theft, with 201 reported incidents between January 1 and August 31, 2020, up from 162 for the same period last year.
Gardaí have disrupted, to some extent, the activity of a bike theft gang operating in the city centre, but warned thieves will continue to target high-value bikes.
Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin has appealed to cyclists to park their bikes in secure areas using good quality locks, to record their bike frame numbers, and to report stolen bikes.
He also plans to ask the crime prevention office to examine a bike marking initiative, similar to the one used by builders and farmers to protect their machinery.
The details emerged in a meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) which heard:
- incidents of robbery from the person dropped 38% between January 1 and August 31 compared to the same period last year;
- burglary was down 23%;
- theft or unauthorised taking of a vehicle dropped 36%;
- theft from a person was down 60% and theft from a shop was down 27%.
With fewer people on the streets and pubs and nightclubs closed for most of the period, reported incidents of assault causing harm dropped 25%, minor assaults were down 20%, and the number of reported incidents of sexual assault dropped 40%, but there was a slight increase in the number of rapes — up from 29 to 32.
Reported incidents of criminal damage dropped 17%, and public order and drunkenness offences were down 3%.
But reported drugs offences for the period jumped to 998 — up 40% compared to the same period last year.
A breakdown shows the category of possession of drugs for sale or supply jumped 66%, with possession of drugs for personal use up 33%.
The number of reported incidents of possession of offensive weapons also jumped — up 57%.
Reduced traffic volumes led to declines in traffic collisions of up to 35%, but driving under the influence dipped just 4% — down from 184 to 176 reported incidents.
Chief Supt McPolin said the increase in drug detection was particularly welcome and was due in part to increased garda numbers, high-visibility checkpoints, and patrols, the deployment of a new city centre policing unit, and an increased garda focus on street-level drug dealing.