The number of knives being seized by gardai has doubled in the space of just four years in many areas leading to calls for a dedicated and local approach to knife crime.
ine Gael TD Neale Richmond was commenting on latest figures released to him by the Department of Justice following a parliamentary question which shows every county and policing division in Ireland is dealing with a steady increase in knife seizures.
“Sadly, too many of us are familiar with a number of high profile murders at the end of a knife,” he said.
“We have seen a steady uptick in the amount of knives being seized annually by the Gardai, as well as the amount of crimes involving a knife, and sadly an increase in hospitalisations due to knives.”
“The amount of knives seized in Dublin North Central in 2020 was 201, twice what they were in 2016 at 98. And with figures of 114 seizures already in 2021, it is proving equally as troubling.”
“The rate of seizures in Dublin South Central stood at 257 in 2020 compared to 128 in 2016, following a year-on-year trend in increases. Indeed, in my own division we sadly see more than double the amount of knives seized in 2020, at 74, compared to 35 in 2016,” added the Dublin Rathdown TD.
The situation in Cork city was even worse, with 172 knives seized in 2020 compared to 66 in 2016, nearly a threefold increase.
Donegal saw 46 knives seized in 2020 compared to 17 in 2016; Tipperary saw 57 knives seized in 2020 compared to 24 in 2020; Kildare saw 72 knives seized in 2020 compared to 32 in 2016. And more knives have already been seized in Laois/Offaly (44) so far in 2021 compared to all of 2016 (35).
“The volume of knife seizures in certain parts of the country need to be countered by increased levels of high visibility policing as well as prioritisation and escalation of new measures to counter knife crime,” said Deputy Richmond.
“These measures must follow the Scottish model which approached knife crime as much as a public health issue as a criminal justice matter. Early intervention schemes, employment, training opportunities, knife amnesties and youth diversion programmes are all key to this.”
“This geographic breakdown of seizures brings home the true severity of our problem with knives in this country. We cannot wait any longer for action,” he added.
Justice Minister Heather Humphreys responded to Deputy Richmond’s question on knife seizure figures saying the Government is very conscious of the dangers presented by knife crime, and indeed all violent assaults.
“Clearly any stabbing has the potential to cause irreparable physical harm and tragic consequences and the Government is determined to ensure that similar problems to those which have developed in neighbouring jurisdictions do not develop here in Ireland,” she said.
“There is a comprehensive and robust legal framework in place with respect to knife crime, including heavy penalties for breaches of the laws concerned.
“Under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act the maximum penalty for a conviction for possessing a knife in a public place without good reason or lawful authority was increased from one to five years.
“An Garda Síochána also has an extended power of search without warrant for knives and offensive weapons and Gardaí have secured a substantial number of convictions in the courts in recent years for possession of a knife or other weapon,” she added.
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