While Covid-19 restrictions have had a significant negative impact on criminals, with crime figures in general down all over Co. Cork, there have been notable increases in domestic violence, drug driving and arrests for drug possession.
Figures released by gardaí at a meeting of the Cork County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) showed significant decreases in thefts, burglary and assaults last year compared to 2019.
Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin, who presented the figures, said these were indicative of travel restrictions which not only impacted the public “but also inconvenienced those committing crime.”
But the Covid-19 restrictions have not stopped drug use and are being blamed for more incidents of domestic violence.
Chief Supt McPolin said domestic violence cases were up by 12% year-on-year in both the Cork City and Cork North Garda Divisions and by 26% in the Cork West area.
“The lockdown has caused difficult circumstances in some families,” he said.
Chief Supt Con Cadogan, who's in charge of Cork West, said there were 40 'live investigations' into domestic violence in his area and a number of others were heading for the courts.
Across the three garda divisions – Cork City, Cork North and Cork West - the number of people arrested on suspicion of drug-driving rose from 163 in 2019 to 246 last year.
Chief Supt McPolin, who's in charge of policing Cork City, said the main drugs detected were cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines.
Drug detections were also on the rise in 2020. There were 330 arrests in the city division for sale and supply last year, up from 188 in 2019.
Those caught with drugs for personal use rose from 836 to 1,106. In the Cork North region they were up from 89 to 126 and 478 to 547 respectively.
The number of dealers arrested in Cork West rose from 57 to 96, but arrests for personal supply fell to 229 from 262.
Chief Supt McPolin said decreased numbers of serious and minor assaults were reflective of a reduced level of socialising. He said the closure, for most of 2020, of pubs and nightclubs “had led to less people milling around” and it was “a positive in that respect."
It also led to a fall-off in the numbers arrested for public order and drunkenness offences.
He said the lockdowns hadn't diminished the use or supply of drugs, but it was “great to see (in recent times) huge of amounts of drugs taken off our streets.”
His counterpart in Cork North, Chief Supt Tom Myers, said a huge amount of work was going on in anti-drugs operations and he wanted to encourage people to come forward with information on the dealers.
The garda figures also showed a notable decrease in serious-injury road accidents and material-damage-only accidents across the three divisions, in line with traffic being reduced nationally to 43% of normal during the Covid-19 restrictions.