Nearly 290 cases of drug-related intimidation were recorded by gardaí in Dublin last year, new figures show.
Operation Fógra was put in place towards the end of 2020 and is the Dublin Region's version of the Garda National Drug-Related Intimidation Reporting Programme.
A succession of reports and research projects over the years have documented the corrosive and crippling effect on communities caused by drug debts and the intimidation inflicted by gangs over payments.
The National DRI Programme is run by gardaí with the National Family Support Network - a network of local family projects which suddenly dissolved last April. The programme, which still operates, has designated inspectors in each division.
Assistant Commissioner for the Dublin Region, Anne-Marie Cagney, said she re-focused the programme in her area in the latter end of 2020.
Figures she released show there were 288 reports in the Dublin Metropolitan Region in 2021. A breakdown shows a wide range of reports across the divisions:
- DMR North – 108;
- DMR West – 85;
- DMR East – 39;
- DMR South Central – 26;
- DMR North Central – 18;
- DMR South – 12
It is not clear why the numbers in the last three divisions are significantly lower, given they cover the North Inner City, the South Inner City and, in DMR South, Drimnagh, Crumlin and Tallaght.
Assistant Commissioner Cagney said the programme is still being “embedded” across the region. She described DRI as a “dreadful crime” with a significant impact on communities and said the objectives of Operation Fógra are increased frontline awareness and enhanced collaboration among gardai.
The Dublin police chief said a recent conviction brought under Operation Fógra occurred in late 2021.
The suspect in the case threatened the injured party on three occasions in a bid to extort €25,000. A garda investigation led to a prosecution by the DPP on blackmail.
Daithí Doolan, Sinn Féin councillor for Ballyfermot and Drimnagh, welcomed the figures and said drug-related intimidation “terrorises local communities”.
A Department of Health report, published last November, said the current national DRI programme was "not working" and that a new inter-agency programme would be introduced in 2022. The research said DRI was “normalised and accepted” in communities, particularly in deprived areas.