I can inform the Deputy that legislation on the use of knives and similar weapons is robust and heavy penalties are already in place for breaches of the law. Following the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, there is now a maximum penalty of five years for possessing a knife in a public place without good reason or lawful authority. An Garda Síochána also has an extended power of search without warrant in relation to knives and offensive weapons. While no further legislative changes are planned at this time, the matter is being kept under continuous review.
At an operational level, An Garda Síochána pro-actively targets public disorder and anti-social behaviour, including knife related crime. In this regard it is worth noting that the number of incidents recorded by the Gardaí in which a knife was used fell from 1,855 in 2010 to 1,637 in 2011 and has remained broadly at that level to date in 2012 (883 such incidents to 11 July 2012). Areas identified as public order hot-spots by local Garda Management are the subject of additional foot and mobile patrols. Incidents of public disorder and anti-social behaviour reported to the Garda authorities are the subject of investigation and are dealt appropriately in accordance with the law. It should be noted, however, that a substantial proportion of all knife crime occurs in domestic settings and often with a degree of spontaneity which greatly increases the challenges for policing and enforcement.