WHILE garda statistics presented at this week’s public meeting of the Shannon Joint Policing Committee showed a general decrease in reported crime, some of those in attendance painted a disturbing picture of teenagers causing havoc, without any fear of the law.
People spoke about teenagers causing havoc outside their homes and intimidating small children, while one woman said there is an element now that shows no respect for the law.
“There’s a different breed of teenagers out there and they’re not afraid of anyone or anything.”
There was also some criticism of local gardaí from the attendance with one local man, Chris Price, saying that when reporting an incident, a guard had replied by saying the matter was “outside my pay grade”.
One woman said the lives of herself, her husband and daughter had been ruined because of persistent and violent harassment by neighbours. She said she had to go on medication because of it, while her daughter had to go to counselling following an attack. The woman claimed she was “sickened” at the treatment her family had endured.
Her partner questioned if any changes have been made following their experience, which included a violent attack on several family members by their neighbours. “Has anything changed 18 months down the line or is that behaviour ok in society?”
Inspector Tom Kennedy said that in relation to the matter, he wouldn’t agree that nothing had been done, to which the man responded by saying that he wasn’t claiming nothing was done but “not nearly enough was done”.
He claimed the Irish courts are now like a revolving door and that repeat offenders “are in and they’re out and they’re laughing”.
“Unfortunately, it’s a laughable situation we’re dealing with,” he added.
Shannon town manager Bernadette Kinsella also spoke and defended Clare County Council’s response to its tenants who engage in anti-social behaviour. “It’s not appropriate to comment on any particular case but we do have a policy on anti-social behaviour in tenanted houses. We pursue that and we have pursued it into court and we have no control once it’s in there.”
She said that to move people from a particular house, there is an onus on the local authority to have a lot of evidence and to be able to produce witnesses.
The man involved said he had been denied the opportunity to have a conversation with council officials in the past, as they said it wouldn’t be appropriate due to legal proceedings.
Mr Price then spoke about his own experience and said the comment about a matter being outside a particular guard’s pay grade was “as insulting as anything that has been said to me”.
He also said a teenager had threatened to burn his house down and that when a complaint was made to the youth’s parents, they said it had nothing to do with them. Mr Price also claimed he has been given conflicting advice by gardaí on several occasions.
Inspector Kennedy said that from a policing perspective, anti-social behaviour is very hard to combat. He said if people are dissatisfied with the response received from gardaí, they should look to speak to the sergeant on duty. He also said a great deal of work goes into dealing with certain individuals.
Inspector Kennedy also gave some crime statistics for Shannon, showing most categories of crime were down in the first nine months of 2012.
While there were seven robberies in the first nine months of last year, there was just one in the same period of 2012.
The first nine months of 2011 saw 32 burglaries, compared to 14 this year. The amount of thefts dropped from 113 to 87, while the number of assaults dropped from 39 to 23.
The amount of public order offences increased but only just, going from 109 to 110.
There were 70 incidences of criminal damage in the first nine months of last year, compared to 57 this year and the inspector said in most cases, the damage was to cars parked outside houses.
The amount of cases of possession of drugs for personal use was unchanged at 19, year on year. The amount of cases of possession of drugs for sale or supply dropped from 10 to seven. Incidences of cultivation of drugs increased from zero to two, while the number of sex crimes reported dropped from four to zero.
“In the main, there has been a reduction in crime across nearly all areas,” Inspector Kennedy added.
In response to a question, he said efforts are being made to increase numbers out on the beat. “We’re constantly striving to get people on the streets and to increase visibility and we have a number of cycling units as well.”
Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the inspector if Shannon gardaí have sufficient manpower and vehicles and he was told they have sufficient resources.
While some of the attendance felt there have been a lot of fireworks in Shannon in advance of Hallowe’en, Inspector Kennedy said officers felt there are actually fewer this year. He said this may have been due to a crackdown at the ploughing championships, where youths had been able to source them in the past.