A LOCAL Councillor has said latest Garda figures prove Waterford is a safe city – despite some recent high profile incidents.
At the most recent Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting of Waterford City & County Council, Councillors were told that Gardaí have recorded 5,592 incidents since January 1st 2018.
An average of six people are arrested a day and an average of four searches are carried out each day in the jurisdiction.
Cllr Eddie Mulligan (FF) has noted the marked reduction in public order offences which he said have been steadily reducing in a time of limited resources.
“In addition, the overall crime trend has been steadily below the average since late 2015,” he said.
He also says there have been increased detections in drug possession and sale/supply compared to the same period of 2017.
However, the figures show theft from shops is up and Cllr Mulligan says a collaborative effort is needed to tackle this.
Theft from shops has increased by 31 per cent in the city and 15 per cent as a whole in the county (compared to the same time last year).
Cllr Mulligan, who is a founding member of Waterford Business Group, says Gardaí need “increased support” and “continuous effort” from the business community and members of the public to ensure that persistent offenders are prosecuted.
In relation to the recent issue of city centre break-ins, Cllr Mulligan says he has enquired on behalf of businesses and can report that there has been a significant amount of success, where a specific number people have been brought before the Courts.
“The Gardaí state that there is no evidence to hand to suggest that there has been any definite targeting of business premises,” he said.
He says there is significant Garda activity focusing on anti-social behaviour in the city centre.
“We are a very safe city,” he said.
“While we have incidents, this perception of Waterford as being unsafe is simply not true.”
He says there is good collaborative community policing work in Waterford but “a small number of people” have been responsible for some high profile incidents.
Cllr Mulligan has asked people to “think twice” before sharing images and footage of such incidents online.
“We are trying to drive on and attract investment here in Waterford,” he said.
In particular, an incident in the city centre between two females on March 30th attracted widespread attention online.
This followed on from a similar incident in the same area earlier this year which also attracted significant online interest.
“With reference to the unpleasant incident on March 30th, there was in fact a Garda engaged with the Business Watch Scheme on duty in the city centre,” explained Cllr Mulligan.
“At the time of the occurrence, outside the McDonald’s restaurant, this Garda was away from the city centre, on an arrest related enquiry having been present in the city centre between 10am until after 12 midday. Following an enquiry, which necessitated his absence from the city centre, he returned to deal with an unrelated shoplifting incident at Dunne’s Stores. There was also a further Garda response to another shoplifting incident at Penney’s in the city centre on this afternoon.”
Cllr Mulligan said he was informed by Gardaí that the reported matter at McDonald’s unfortunately escalated due to the length of time it took to respond.
“The Garda unit which attended to this call did so from the John’s Park area where they were dealing with a domestic situation, immediately prior to being informed of the incident in John Roberts Square,” explained Cllr Mulligan.
“In relation to the other Garda units working at the time, one was recorded as dealing with a separate occurrence, one was involved in traffic related calls and one unit was on a meal break. I am informed that the necessary CCTV evidence etc., has been compiled to bring charges against the people concerned.”
Cllr Mulligan says he is satisfied that John Roberts Square is sufficiently covered by CCTV and says there is ongoing co-operation between city centre businesses and Gardaí.
He is calling on Gardaí, members of the public and local businesses to continue working together.
“We must build upon the great initiatives, such as Waterford’s Purple Flag, Retail Watch and City Safe. Business owners and members of the public can rest assured that there is a strong commitment from our local Gardaí to consistently police the city centre to ensure the ongoing safety in the city centre that everyone enjoys.”