Knife seizures in Cork City have increased nearly threefold in the years between 2016 and 2020, with new nationwide stats making for "alarming reading".
Some 66 knives were seized in 2016, increasing to 172 were seized four years later in 2020. This year, as of mid-August, there have been 77 knife seizures.
The stats come following a parliamentary question to the Department of Justice. Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond asked the Justice Minister about the number of knives seized from 2016 to date in 2021.
The stats show that in Cork City, 557 knives were seized between 2016 and 2020. Cork North saw 213 seizures, with 67 in Cork West, 415 in Limerick, 155 in Kerry, and 154 in Clare over the same period.
The statistics are based upon operational data from the garda Pulse system as was available on August 16, 2021, and are liable to change.
In Dublin South-Central, knife seizures stood at 257 in 2020 compared to 128 in 2016, following a year on year trend in increases. Dublin North-Central saw 201 seizures in 2020 — more than twice the number seized in 2016 (98).
Neale Richmond said the figure of 114 seizures already in 2021 was “troubling”.
The department said the Government “is very conscious of the dangers presented by knife crime” and that there is “a comprehensive and robust legal framework in place with respect to knife crime”.
The maximum penalty for a conviction for possessing a knife in a public place without good reason or lawful authority was increased from one to five years.
In total across Ireland, there were 1202 knife seizures in 2016; 1,614 in 2017; 1,933 in 2018; 2,143 in 2019; 2,248 in 2020; and 1,143 so far in 2021.
The department said that the 2016-2018 increase in recorded seizures is due in large part to the introduction of the Property and Exhibit Management System (PEMS) which improved the level of recording of all objects seized, including knives.
Mr Richmond said that “sadly, too many of us are familiar with a number of high-profile murders at the end of a knife":
Mr Richmond said the country should adopt the Scottish model, “which approached knife crime as much as a public health issue as a criminal justice matter”.
He said the volume of seizures needs to be countered by increased levels of high visibility policing as well as prioritisation and escalation of new measures to counter knife crime.
“This geographic breakdown of seizures brings home the true severity of our problem with knives in this country. We cannot wait any longer for action.”