While we all know that the government finances are in bad shape, should that be a factor in terms of having funds for policing our cities.
Waterford city at times could do with more policing especially in the early evening. Anecdotal stories suggest that at times resources are stretched and there are more incidents.
Tourists, especially Americans who must confront danger in their own big cities, can feel uncomfortable.
One of the most off-putting elements of walking the streets these days is the sight of street drinkers in prominent tourist areas, like near our famed churches, the Viking quarter and along the quays.
It does give the city a bad image. It is a little intimidating to see a load of drunks asking for money and seeking more alcohol, as one tourism guide told us recently.
This has happened a lot in the big cities but is now more prevalent in provincial Ireland, not just Waterford. Can we make things more safe downtown?
Control on sales of alcohol
The Vintners in the past said that if there were more outlets selling alcohol, through shops etc then there could be less control on sales.
Bar owners and staff, they claim, have much more experience in judging whether customers have had too much and can watch them on the premises.
But if someone takes a bottle of spirits or other strong drink outside, there are no more controls bar the person’s self control.
This can apply to home drinking as well as street drinking.
We heard of one instance last weekend where people broke into a building in the city centre just to have a drinking party of their own when they were stuck for a place to shelter. So what can be done? More police presence on the streets of Waterford could help. There may be a requirement to have more vigilance on behalf of off- licence owners, shops and some pubs about the sale of alcohol.
Where are people buying alcohol and consuming it outside, can it be controlled better? Certainly there are legal problems and the more the rights of the customer are upheld the harder it is for shop owners.
If that is the case is there a need for a change in the law? Certainly in other countries there would be more sanctions on the sale of alcohol.
If we find that tourists find Waterford a difficult place to visit, where people feel unsafe, then we are going to lose visitors.
Gardai under pressure
The Gardai find it hard to chase criminals in their squad cars through the pedestrian areas. Could some of the bollards be lifted in the evening in some places so that there could be more throughput of traffic and keep streets more alive? Already the city is suffering from the closure of the Waterford Crystal factory tours. Further problems for visitors could exacerbate things. Perhaps it might be an issue for the Chamber of Commerce and Vintners.
Certainly in the old times, alcohol sale was controlled mainly by licensed premises. Is it now time to turn the clock back again and look at how better to control sales and reduce public order offences?
Drugs are also an emerging problem, Cork is said to have serious problems and Waterford is not far behind, growing unemployment will make this worse.
Again more vigilance and more
co-operation from the public is needed.
Can we make the city centre more attractive for evening use? Waterford Chamber of Commerce have a number of new initiatives to make people safe in the city centre and encourage more evening visitors.
This has to be a good start but can we do more about the bad behaviour, the Gardai have a tough job and more resources.
Tourism interests want to be supported more in keeping our city alive and vibrant.