Calls are being made for dedicated, local approaches to tackling knife crime as new figures show that a tripling in the volume of knives seized in Cork City between 2016 and 2020.
According to figures released by the Department of Justice, through a parliamentary question, 172 knives were seized in Cork City last year, an almost tripling of the number seized in 2016 (66).
In all, 224 knives were seized in Cork City (172), Cork North (47), and Cork West (5) last year.
110 knives have been seized in Cork already this year (up to August 16).
In its response, the Justice Department noted that Garda authorities have advised the recent increases in seizures are partly due to proactive policing operations, particularly during 2020 with the increased Garda presence due to the Covid-19 public health response.
The figures have prompted calls for urgent action to address the issue with Cork North Central Fine Gael TD, Colm Burke saying that gardaí in Cork have been very proactive and “we need to make sure that we provide the necessary supports to the gardaí to make sure that they can keep up that level of getting in at an early stage before serious injury is caused.”
He added: "A lot of damage can be done in a very short time period and especially if you have a combination of people [carrying knives] with the use of drink and drugs. An overreaction to a very small issue and all of a sudden people produce a knife and use that knife and then there can be very tragic circumstances.”
Cork Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh O’Laoghaire described the figures as “worrying”.
He said that the act of carrying a knife makes it far more likely they are going to be used.
“Unfortunately we’ve seen some very serious assaults and murders in recent years with knives in Cork. We need to understand what’s going on and try and solve it through whatever means necessary,” he said.
The Cork TD added: “I think there is a value in a local targeted approach and that is certainly something that I would be looking to discuss at best at the next joint policing committee meeting.”
Nationally, 2,248 knives were seized last year, with 1,143 knives seized so far this year.
Fine Gael TD for Dublin Rathdown, Neale Richmond, who requested the figures, said that the figures show the worrying level of knife seizures in every county.
“The volume of knife seizures in certain parts of the country need to be countered by increased levels of high visibility policing as well as prioritisation and escalation of new measures to counter knife crime," he said.