CLARE’S senior garda with responsibility for policing in Ennis has told the people of the county that they should shout from the rooftops that Ennis is one of the best places in Ireland, with lower crime rates than any other town of comparable size.
Superintendent John Scanlan was addressing the first ever public meeting of the Ennis Joint Policing Committee meeting during the week. He said that domestic burglaries were down approximately 25% in 2009, when compared with the previous year, with 156 domestic burglaries during the year, down from 230 in 2008.
There has also been a reduction of over 30% in cases of public order which, the superintendent explained, is largely due fewer people going out and drinking because people have less disposable income. He said the introduction of CCTV around Ennis town centre had also positively impacted on public order.
Supt Scanlan confirmed that there had been 242 thefts from shops throughout the year, covering a wide spectrum from high-end theft of expensive goods, to children stealing sweets.
In relation to assaults in the town, he confirmed that there was a 3% reduction in the category of assaults causing harm, while there was a 93% detection rate of those incidents. Figures for other assaults dropped by 7% last year.
“The overall trend for criminal activity in Ennis is positive. Ennis has lower crime rates than any other town of comparable size in the country and statistics show that,” the superintendent added.
He also confirmed that, on average, gardaí are catching more than one drug dealer a week in Ennis.
“During 2009, there were 56 arrests in relation to drug dealing in the area that is policed by Ennis Garda Station. These arrests cover the whole spectrum of drug dealing and a range of drugs. The more significant volumes of drugs seized in relation to these arrests were of cannabis,” he said.
He acknowledged, however, that there needs to be widespread concern about the sale and supply of drugs in Ennis.
“The number of people arrested for the possession of drugs for sale or supply in the Ennis area doubled last year from 28 to 56. During the year there were 158 cases of simple possession of drugs, which were by and large for personal use.”
He said that significant extra resources had been applied to tackle drug related activity in the Ennis area, with the objective of interjecting the supply chain of drugs.
He appealed to the public to be vigilant and to engage with young people on the subject of drugs.
“There is a certain amount of ambivalence to drug use. What we are dealing with nowadays is a cohort of people, whose parents use drugs and now there is an acceptance of this and complacency in relation to their children as young adults using drugs,” he added.
The Superintendent also made a public appeal to the people involved in the ongoing family feud in the Ennis area to end it. He said that those involved were members of the same family and that the matter was of particular concern to gardaí.
“There has been a significant amount of arrests in relation to this feud. This is something that many people are frightened about and it is a very serious matter. It will inevitably have a very serious outcome and those involved should realise that themselves.
“The criminal feud amongst people who are elements of the same family, need to understand that there is only going to be one end to this situation; some serious injuries or appearances on serious charges before the court,” the superintendent said.
He also backed proposals to introduce pedestrianisation in Ennis on the basis of health and safety.
“The main concerns of the gardaí in relation to pedestrianisation is the safety of the public on the streets. When the town is busy, with a high volume of people, particularly young people, using the footpaths, people, including elderly people and people with buggies and small children, are sometimes forced out on to the road, which is very dangerous. Pedestrianisation is needed in the town centre because otherwise there could be a serious loss of life,” he said.
On the issue of night time pedestrianisation, he said the gardaí were concerned about the Club Bridge and the Queen’s Hotel area where a large number of young people gather after nightclubs close.
“There could be anything in the region of 2,000 people out on the streets in that one area at those times, with many under the influence of alcohol. It presents health and safety concerns and also problems for emergency services getting access to the area if necessary,” the superintendent concluded.