Written Answers. - Crime Levels.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

226 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement regarding the concerns raised by an Irish expatriate in relation to the out of hand crime situation in Dublin (details supplied). [22068/02]

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.

The Government will continue to focus on youth crime by supporting and developing evidence based preventative measures and interventions aimed at young offenders and those most at risk of offending by implementing the outstanding relevant provisions of the Children Act, 2001. I am continuing to support and strengthen the network of Garda youth diversion projects which increased in number from 12 in 1997 to 64 now. The continued enforcement of the provisions of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2000, relating to the mandatory temporary closure of pubs and off-licences where convictions for allowing under age drinking have been obtained is also a useful weapon in this issue. This has resulted in 129 closure orders against licence holders up to 18 October 2002.
A major expansion of Garda CCTV systems is currently under way, with systems to be installed in 17 areas, including Ballyfermot, Bray, Clondalkin, Dún Laoghaire, Finglas and Tallaght.