Drug offences and domestic abuse increased in 2020 while the number of other crimes declined, compared to 2019.
Crime figures revealed at the County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) showed that property crimes, as well as crimes against the person (assaults), dropped across north and west Cork as well as in the city.
Drug detections have risen across the three divisions. In the city, there were 330 cases of possession of drugs for sale or supply compared to 188 in 2019. There were 1,106 cases of possession of drugs for personal use, compared to 836 in 2019.
In North Cork drugs for sale or supply cases went from 89 to 126 and drugs for personal use went from 478 to 547. In West Cork, cases of drugs for sale or supply went from 57 to 96 and personal use of drugs cases dropped from 262 to 229.
Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin said the figures speak for themselves: “Drugs are still very much in our communities and people are using drugs and the sale and supply is very prevalent across the city and county.
The Chief Supt said that lockdown and the pandemic had not diminished the amount of drug-taking in society.
“We are aware of it and investing huge resources into those units and you can see the results of that work there.
“Detections can be long protracted investigations of long man-hours and surveillance, detections, arrests and files sent to the DPP. It is great to see huge amounts of drugs off the streets in Cork city and county.”
Domestic abuse incidents rose significantly across the three divisions, up 12% in Cork city and Cork North and up 26% in West Cork.
Chief Supt McPolin said: “The lockdown and issues around the pandemic caused difficult circumstances for some families and people confined to the home can lead to increased stress and friction in the household.
He reiterated that the 5km restrictions do not apply to victims of domestic abuse seeking refuge or reporting a matter to An Garda Síochana.
“Obviously it is one area that we are keeping a close eye on in Operation Faoiseamh, an operation in place since April 1 2020, which involves the utilisation of dedicated staff contacting victims of domestic violence and abuse to offer them support and reassurance and deal with any issues that have been identified.
Chief Supt McPolin said in terms of the decline in property crime, it was indicative of the travel restrictions that had impacted on the whole society.
“Not only does it inconvenience the public, in our attempt to deal with the pandemic, it also inconveniences the burglars and those committing crimes as reflected in the figures.”
Addressing the drop in both assaults causing harm and minor assaults across Cork, Chief Supt McPolin said: “This is reflective of the level of social activity taking place across the city and county. Licenced premises and restaurants and nightclubs, etc, places where people socialise and gather, have been closed for the most part since last March. That is possibly one of the main drivers of the reduction in assaults, fewer people milling around and less opportunity for victims to be assaulted and for people to pick on others. So it is positive, in that regard you could say.”
Public order offences and drunkenness offences were down only slightly.
In the city, public order offences dropped from 1,063 to 977 and drunkenness offences dropped from 1005 to 901. Chief Supt McPolin said while the drops were not huge, they were in the right direction.
In North Cork, public order reduced from 408 to 366 and drunkenness offences went from 428 to 327.
In West Cork, there was a dramatic drop in public order offences from 306 to 180 and drunkenness also declined significantly from 212 to 135.
The number of people caught drink driving remained relatively stable, in the city 286 were caught in 2019 and 280 in 2020. In Cork North 311 were caught in 2019 and 309 in 2020 and in West Cork, the figures decreased from 258 in 2019 to 214 in 2020.
Chief Supt McPolin also said that drug driving arrests had substantially increased, with 163 arrested in 2019 and 246 in 2020. In Cork city, 24 were arrested in 2019 and 48 in 2020, In Cork North 72 were caught in 2019 and 104 in 2020. Finally in west Cork, 67 were caught in 2019, increasing to 94 cases in 2020.
“The most common drugs we find are cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines,” Chief Supt McPolin explained.
Rape rose by 25% or by 10 incidents in the city in 2020. With 40 incidents of rape reported in 2019 and 50 in 2020. In Cork North rape also increased slightly with 23 cases reported in 2019 and 25 cases reported in 2020 and in West Cork, there were less than ten reported in both years.
There were 119 reports of sexual assault in the city in 2019 which dropped to 90 in 2020, in North Cork there was a decrease from 57 cases down to 30 and in West Cork 27 cases increased by one to 28 in 2020.
Discussing this trend, Chief Superintendent McPolin said: “Each division has a protected services unit (PSU) which implicates greater confidence in the victim reporting such incidents and the dedicated and specialised officers in that respect and allowed for more informal and personalised engagement with other services in this field, such as the Cork Sexual Violence Centre in the city.”