WESTPORT’S Garda chief has confirmed that despite the recent spate of burglaries, crime statistics are down in the town in comparison to this time last year. However, Supt Aiden Foley told The Mayo News that they are marginally up in the wider district.
He was speaking after a recent Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting in Westport which, ironically, in a time of heightened awareness of such crimes locally after a spate of recent break-ins, was adjourned by Cathaoirleach Ollie Gannon because there was not a quorum (enough members present to officially hold a meeting).
“While we have had break-ins recently, if you want to take a statistic on this time last year, there were more burglaries in Westport town. I am well aware that there has been a huge increase in other parts of the county but want to assure the community that the Gardaí are being proactive. There have been a number of arrests since our last meeting and we are bringing people before the courts as early as possible,” Supt Foley said.
He said that, while some of the burglaries had been committed by local people, there were offenders coming into the area who were the subject of a national Garda Síochána operation.
Cllr Christy Hyland suggested there should be more plain-clothes detectives serving in Westport. However, Supt Foley observed that ‘you do not have to be in plain clothes to prevent crime’. Cllr Hyland also noted that the upcoming installation of a CCTV system in Wesport would reassure people and, moreover, the installation of such systems in areas where garda stations were being closed would help in the detection of crime.
Speaking to The Mayo News just before Christmas, Cllr Hyland said that another spate of burglaries in the town further confirmed that ‘the perpetrators of these crimes needed to be hunted down’.
“Existing garda resources must be fully focused on these criminals and they must be hunted down. These criminals clearly have no fear and have really caused much concern in the community, particularly for the elderly,” Cllr Hyland said.
The Mayo News understands that two businesses in the town were the subject of break-ins in the days before Christmas, while private houses were also targeted by the thieves.
Meanwhile, Cllr Ollie Gannon criticised the absence of members of the JPC.
“Some of the people who are not here today are shouting the loudest about policing. I will ensure that I am not forced to adjourn a meeting again because we did not reach a quorum,” Cllr Gannon said.