Garda crackdown on prostitution in Limerick borne out in statistics

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

THE recent crackdown on prostitution by Limerick gardai is represented in figures compiled by academics for Ireland’s first interactive crime map.

THE recent crackdown on prostitution by Limerick gardai is represented in figures compiled by academics for Ireland’s first interactive crime map.

THE recent crackdown on prostitution by Limerick gardai is represented in figures compiled by academics for Ireland’s first interactive crime map.

Crime-mapping statistics published by the All-Island Research Observatory (www.airo.ie) are based on the Garda PULSE system for recording crime reports and detections and show the number of prostitution offences in the Limerick Garda Division steadily rise since 2004 and jump dramatically in the last two years.

No prostitution offences were recorded in 2004, three in 2005, 13 in 2006, 14 in 2007, four in 2008 and 15 in 2009. But in 2010, there were 68 such offences and 46 have been recorded in the first quarter of this year alone.

The researchers cite advice from the CSO in interpreting crime statistics that specific Garda operations against certain types of crime can skew the figures.

While the number of crimes in the Limerick Garda Division are up in the seven years covered, the rising population does not mean the actual crime rate is up. AIRO says that, nationally, crime rates are actually in decline.

However, the rate of rape and sexual assualt in the Limerick Garda Division - which covers both city and county - appears to be up. There were 54 such offences recorded in 2004, 75 in 2005, 53 in 2006. 82 in 2007, 85 in 2008, 82 in 2009 and peaked at 110 last year.

The Limerick feud accounted for most of the average of six murders a year between 2006 and 2008. This fell to three in 2009 and again rose to six in 2010 - including the mass murder of four people in Newcastle West.

It appears that mandatory checkpoints, reduction in the alcohol limit and public awareness campaigns are having an effect in bringing down the drink-driving rate in Limerick. There were 543 such offences recorded in 2004, rising steadily to 852 in 2008. It has fallen every year since and last year’s total of 490 is the lowest recorded by AIRO.

Evidence that the recession has caused more robberies and thefts in Limerick is inconclusive. The three years since 2008 have seen the three highest number of robberies from the person and both aggravated and non-aggravated burglaries during the period covered. But the number of shoplifting offences was lower last year than in 2006 and the trend is also generally downwards in theft from the person.

Public disorder offences are generally up but there is evidence that Garda operations against feuding criminal gangs are paying dividends. Instances of discharging a firearm peaked at 99 in 2007 but last year saw the lowest total - at 18 - over the period covered - and 2010 also saw the lowest totals for possession of firearms and explosives.

As well as covering 57 types of offences broken down into Garda divisions, AIRO has also published statistics for 10 broad categories of offence recorded in every Garda station in Limerick.