Written Answers. - Syringe Attacks.

Peadar Clohessy

Question:

30 Mr. Clohessy asked the Minister for Justice the number of syringe attacks which have taken place in each of the past three years; the number of persons charged for such attacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9199/97]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the available information sought by the Deputy is as follows:

Year

Indictable offences in which the use of a syringe was recorded

Number of offences recorded

Proceedings commenced

1993

156

55

1994

329

107

1995

497

141

Final statistics for 1996 are not yet available.
Currently, a person using a syringe can be tried under the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990.
I recently published the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Bill, 1997 to amend the criminal law dealing with non-fatal offences against the person and criminal conduct involving syringes. The Bill will restate the law relating to various forms of assault, threats to kill or cause serious harm, coercion, poisoning, false imprisonment and abduction of children and will provide for increased penalties.
The Bill will also provide for a range of new offences to combat criminal conduct involving syringes, including offences of possession of a syringe or container of blood with intent to threaten or injure, placing or abandoning a syringe in any place in a manner which injures or is likely to injure any person, injuring a person with a syringe or threatening to do so, and throwing or putting blood on another person or threatening to do so. The penalties provided will range from 5 years to life imprisonment.