Statistics indicating that crime in Waterford is on the decrease have left City Councillor John Halligan “sceptical”.

He said so at Monday night’s Council meeting after the figures were presented as part of a report from the City’s Joint Policing Committee.

According to the report “headline crime” was down last year to 2,199, from 2,467 in 2006. Burglaries were also down to 402 from 493 while “volume crime” showed an improvement too, from 1,786 down to 1,577. There was a slight increase in drug detections (the majority for cannabis possession), up to 575, while public order offences, at 1,856, were almost identical to 06.

Overall, according to the figures, there was an 11 p.c. reduction in crime, but that prompted Cllr. Halligan to query the source of the statistics. It was evident to everybody that crime was rising dramatically, he insisted.

He said crime was the biggest single issue affecting people in Ireland and Waterford was no exception. The country had the highest figures in Europe per capita for assaults and other acts of violence. People just wouldn’t believe that crime rates were dropping. And of 110,000 warrants issued last year, 36,000 were still outstanding, 4,000 of them committal warrants.

Cllr. Pat Hayes said he accepted the statistics were presented in good faith, but the public would be entitled to doubt them on the basis of what they see going on. And in Waterford the trouble was not restricted at time to the city centre – it spread outwards as people made their way home. More gardai were needed on the streets to protect the public.

Cllr. Mary Roche said the drinks industry needed to be curbed in the tactics it employed to entice young people to drink. It was introducing all kinds of sweet drinks containing alcohol, which tasted nice and it was time the government dropped its Pontius Pilate act and took action.

City Manager Michael Walsh was adamant, however, that Waterford was a safe place in relative terms. That was the reality, he said. And he praised the gardai for being totally open about the figures, which they broke down for the JPC.

In reply to Cllr. Tom Murphy, he said the Council had the ultimate sanction of eviction against tenants who engaged in anti-social behaviour. But it was a different story if the local authority did not own the house.