A Cork TD has highlighted the issue of knife crime and has asked that the Government would review legislation and introduce new initiatives to tackle the problem.
Speaking in the Dáil last Thursday, Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North Central Padraig O’Sullivan said he welcomed the recent announcement in the budget for additional gardaí and administration staff, which he said should go a long way to tackling the issue but questioned what new initiatives the Government would take to reduce the amount of knife crime in Cork and elsewhere in the country.
In his response to the Deputy, Minister of State with responsibility for Law Reform James Browne said that An Garda Síochána is currently operating a reduction strategy for 2019 to 2021, aimed at “tackling all types of assaults in public, including use of knives”.
“This strategy is informed by a pro-arrest, early investigation and proactive high-visibility approach.
“It places particular emphasis on prevention, education and awareness.
“The strategy promotes early prosecution of offenders where feasible and operationally appropriate,” he said.
“An Garda Síochána also addresses knife crime through education and engagement with community initiatives.
“At an operational level, Gardaí proactively target public disorder and antisocial behaviour, including knife-related crime, through the strategic deployment of Garda resources, and areas identified as public order hotspots by local Garda management are the subject of additional foot and mobile patrols,” Minister Browne continued.
He said that of all knife crime, 16% is perpetrated by people between the ages of 12 and 17, whereas 28% is perpetrated by people between the ages of 18 and 23 and 21% is perpetrated by people between the ages of 24 and 29.
“This is very much an issue arising with younger people and it will be addressed with the new justice strategy to be published before the end of the year,” he added.
Deputy O’Sullivan questioned whether it was the Government’s intention to bring forward a knife amnesty for certain types of blades or other implements that could be taken off the streets, “akin to the ‘bin the blade’ campaign run by the Government in the 1990s”.
Minister Browne said that whilst he sympathised with the idea, the advice from An Garda Síochána is that such an amnesty would be “unlikely to lead to any significant benefit”.
“It is well understood that in many cases, ordinary household kitchen knives are used for such crimes.
“It has not been the experience that knives of this type are handed in during an amnesty.
“However, I am assured by Garda authorities that tackling knife crime remains a top priority for the organisation,” he continued.