Children as young as 12 are coming into Cork City centre, getting intoxicated and staying out until 1am, Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin warned the city's Joint Policing Committee.
These children out are vulnerable, despite Garda patrols and there have been a number of assaults reported, he warned.
“Do their parents know where they are?” he asked.
Although crime statistics were down overall across Cork City compared to the same period last year, he warned trends were pointing to an increase in public order offences again.
Sharing crime statistics from January 1 to May 31 this year, Chief Supt McPolin said property crime fell by 36% in the first five months of this year compared to the same period of last year.
Crimes against the person also plummeted. No murders have been recorded in Cork City this year but harassment, stalking and threats increased and menacing phone calls jumped from 16 to 23.
Rape and sexual assaults also increased by 11% from 53 to 59.
Criminal damage fell by 10%, dropping from 459 incidents in the first five months of last year to 415 this year. Arson also fell by 11% (from 36 last year to 32 this year).
Public order offences also dropped overall, falling by 6%. Drunkeness offences fell from 382 to 321 (-16%) but public order offences increased slightly, rising from 388 to 403.
Drugs offences increased by 63%, rising from 505 to 823 offences.
“Drugs are very much here in Cork City,” Chief Supt McPolin said.
But an increase in gardaí assigned to drug units in the city had helped bring about the marked increase in detections, he said.
Weapons offences fell from 107 to 83 (-22%).
Traffic collisions also decreased from 1,089 to 923 (-15%) with no fatal traffic collisions in Cork City so far this year.
However, there were 1,066 offences recorded under the Covid 19 Infectious Diseases (Powers under the Health Act 1947) which included failing to wear a face mask and throwing house parties.
Meanwhile, the JPC was also told that accommodation fraud is now "a big scam" in Cork City, with hopeful tenants being duped out of thousands of euro.
From January 1 to June 1, gardaí recorded 20 incidents of accommodation fraud with individual losses ranging from €450 to €5,312 — more than €24,000 has been lost in total.
Sergeant Brian McSweeney, crime prevention officer for Cork City, warned that scams often involve property being advertised on social media platforms.
The scammer often claims to be out of the country and can’t show the property but requests a deposit. But when the keys arrive they do not fit the property, which already has someone else living in it.
He warned people to make sure the house exists before paying any deposit.
“Meet the landlord on site. Use a bank draft for the deposit. And make sure the keys fit before signing the contract,” he told Cork City's Joint Policing Committee.