GETTING the public to report even minor incidents is very important to local policing, Tuesday’s meeting of Shannon Municipal District heard, but it also heard that on occasion local people are afraid to make a complaint.
Sergeant Seamus Mulligan said that there are a relatively large number of Gardaí based in Shannon due to the airport, and with the facility not being too demanding on their time at the moment, that there is quite a good number of police working in the area.
He said that in the last couple of years quite a bit of effort has gone into getting Neighbourhood Watch schemes going, and while these have been successful in some cases, that has not always been the case. “In a lot of areas, unfortunately, they don’t have the interest in engaging.”
The efforts to get these schemes in place will continue over the next year, he added.
Levels of crime in the Shannon area have remained relatively stable, Sergeant Mulligan claimed, with detections also of a similar or slightly improved level.
Councillor PJ Ryan said that in the past there had been a number of complaints about incidents at the tourist area around Bunratty, and noting that these have been “more or less eliminated” he asked Sergeant Mulligan about the reasons for the improvement.
The Sergeant said that it was a “high value area” for criminals, with tourists often having expensive electrical items in their cars, so Gardai had made a special effort to tackle the problem. “There were an awful lot of incidents there and also in parts of North Clare and a lot of effort was put in to combat it” he said.
Sergeant Mulligan said there were extra patrols put in place, Gardaí worked with businesses on the use of CCTV and the results turned out to be “extremely positive”.
“It’s a good example of what can be done” he claimed.
Councillor Donna McGettigan said she had recently went with Sergeant Mulligan to see some problem areas.
She said that in some cases young males, who aren’t taking drugs or drinking alcohol, can still be a source of an issue as they leave soft drink cans and wrappers around the place. She said in these instances often they just need some direction.
On a more sinister level, she said that there is “open drug dealing” in some housing estates, and that when one woman made a report of it, her tyres were slashed in retribution. Councillor McGettigan said that some people are afraid to make reports, lest they be targeted.
Sergeant Mulligan said that it is crucial that people do in fact make reports, or Gardai won’t even be aware of problems that have emerged.
He also said that Shannon has a large number of teenagers, who are fine young people. However he said that when young people congregate they often don’t have to be doing an awful lot wrong to cause an issue. He said that if a problem is reported to Gardai they can engage with the young people, communicate that there is some annoyance being caused and they will then move to another area.
Independent Gerry Flynn said that while he would encourage them to engage, some people are nervous of getting involved in things like Neighbourhood Watch, lest they become targets.
He said that in Gort na Rí there have been issues for a number of years and that “vulnerable people are at risk of being burned to death in their beds.”
“The fear that these people have endured for years is not acceptable,” he added.
While Councillor Flynn questioned how adequate local policing is, given the demands of the airport, Sergeant Muligan said that resources are good. “I would never say no to more, but there are sufficient resources.” He said a change in shift patterns has also been a big help.
Sergeant Mulligan reiterated that people should not feel there is no point in making a report or people should not feel they are wasting the Gardai’s time when doing so, as contact from the public helps give a much clearer picture of what is happening. “If we are made aware of things we can deal with them, but we can’t deal with the unknown.”