Offaly town to get more gardaí because of 'colourful past' of those moving there

'An area I have significant concerns about'

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Offaly town to get more gardaí because of 'colourful past' of those moving there

Offaly town to get more gardaí because of 'colourful past' of those moving there

Laois-Offaly Garda Chief Superintendent John Scanlon has said Portarlington will see an increase in garda numbers to tackle social issues arising in recent months.

A new drugs unit has been established in the district and Chief Supt Scanlon told a Laois county Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting on Monday that Portarlington is an area the unit will have a particular interest in. 

"We have established a drugs unit, in the next couple of weeks people will be appointed to policing here in the urban centres. Portarlington is going to see a significant increase in numbers, it is an area that I have significant concerns about," he said.

"A lot of people have moved there from outside the area who would have had a colourful past and they changed the social balance of the area. We are putting extra guards into that environment in the next number of weeks," he said.

Speaking at the meeting, Chief Supt Scanlon spoke more broadly about a rise in rows and other public order offences as well as drunkenness offences in the region. He put this increase down to the improving "night time economy" fuelled by drink and drugs.

There has been a 75 percent increase in the number of drunkenness offences in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same time period last year. Public order offences have also seen an increase of almost 70 percent from 46 incidents in the first quarter of 2017 to 78 incidents in the same time period this year. 

"What we see is what we refer to as the night time economy improving. More people are out drinking, more incidents of disorder, more incidents of disturbance," Scanlon noted.

"There are more guards out there so they are going to be convicting people in more public order situations. We have a newly established drugs squad which has become very very active. It is a factor of having a drugs squad they are out there catching these people and they are out there."

"This is classic night time economy, more people with more money out drinking, worse for wear, coming into conflict with law and order, that is what some of that is," he said. 

The new garda drug unit will be operational in Laois-Offaly in the coming weeks.

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