Most people would agree with the Deputy's correspondent that there is more crime in Dublin now than 30 years ago. This is deplorable but, regrettably, in no way unusual. Increased crime rates have been part of the common experience of the industrialised world during this period. To claim that crime in Dublin is out of hand, however, is unwarranted.
There is, however, no room for complacency. There is a need for robust responses to offending behaviour and to adapt to changing levels and patterns of crime. In addition to the existing Garda powers in relation to public order, the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill, 2002, currently before the House will give the Garda significant additional powers to assist them in dealing with drunkenness and disorderly conduct which most would accept are contributing to street crime and violent assaults. The purpose of the Bill is to augment the law so as to tackle the problem of drink related late night disturbance and the growing problem of late night street violence which has its origins in or outside licensed premises and fast food outlets. It will apply to pubs, off-licences, discos, nightclubs, dance venues of all types, amusement arcades, chip shops, take-aways and mobile food vehicles.
In addition, Garda operations which target such behaviour play a vital role in combating this type of crime. Operation Encounter is focused on all issues of public order occurring in the community. Particular attention is paid to nightclubs, fast food outlets and other venues at which large numbers of people congregate and where there is potential for disorder. The target hours of the operation are determined locally based on the specific circumstances prevailing at each location. Particular attention is being paid to ensuring that the owners and managers of such premises are fully aware of their responsibilities and of the duty of care they owe to their patrons and other members of the public. Additional resources are made available and each regional commander draws up their own plans to prioritise the deployment of resources.