IN the past year, a number of gardaí, prison officers and an employee at Portlaoise Courthouse have received death threats or have been seriously injured.
These frightening details were relayed at last week’s annual meeting of the Laois Joint Policing Committee (JPC) in Portlaoise. Superintendent Anthony Pettit said there had been a 24% rise (29 to 36) in the number of official complaints received by gardaí in relation to this type of offence.
He also said there had been a 17% (23 to 27) increase in the number of complaints about menacing phone calls.
However, reported incidents of assault causing harm in Co Laois were down by almost one-third (110 to 74). Also down were complaints concerning minor assault ‒ 371 down to 344. There was no change in the number of recorded complaints (9) in connection with harassment over the past year.
There were 14 recorded incidents of gardaí being assaulted or obstructed while executing an arrest.
Regarding crime against property, Supt Pettit said this category saw significant reductions. Burglaries were down from 305 to 227 (-26%); interfering with a motor vehicle down from 11 to 10 (-9%); robbery from the person, 21 down to 9 (-57%); theft (other), 365 down to 211 (-42%); theft from vehicles, 149 down to 119 (-20%); theft from the person, 31 down to 22 (-29%).
The number of complaints gardaí received about the unauthorised taking of a pedal cycle (stolen bikes) was 31 compared with 32 for the same period last year, while an 11% drop was reported in the number of stolen vehicles, down to 54 from 61, an 11% decrease.
Theft from shops rose by 6% this year compared with the same time last year ‒ 380 from 357, while there was also a rise in reported aggravated burglaries from one to five.
Supt Pettit provided details on the number of reported criminal damage and public order offences.
There was a 30% decrease in the number of incidents involving criminal damage by fire (23 from 33). Drunkenness rose by 59% from 90 to 143, while public order offences saw a slight increase from 267 to 269. Reported criminal damage complaints were down one to 402.
From September 2018 to September this year, Supt Pettit said there was a 15% hike in offences involving drugs and weapons. He provided the breakdown in this category.
The incidents of cultivation or manufacture of drugs dropped from seven to five (-29%). Possession of drugs for sale or supply also dropped, from 161 to 135 (-16%). Possession of offensive weapons fell from 44 to 41, while incidents involving possession of a firearm rose slightly from six to seven.
Possession of drugs for personal use rose sharply from 606 to 758 (25%).
There was a 19% hike in the number of motorists driving while under the influence of an intoxicant (drugs or alcohol) ‒ up from 167 to 198. Ten people were arrested in the period under review for being intoxicated while in charge of vehicles ‒ a 67% increase, up from six detections last year.
Supt Pettit said that the 12-month period in review saw four lives lost in traffic accidents, three of which occurred before the end of last year.
He said that 83 people had received non-serious injuries arising from road traffic accidents from last September to this September (-12%). In the same period, there was a 58% increase in serious injuries arising from road traffic incidents (12 to 19). And a 4% drop (683 from 712) was recorded in the number of vehicles that were damages in traffic accidents.