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County’s crime rate plummets in pandemic


BIG DROP Burglaries in Mayo were down 55 percent in 2020. Pic: istock

Gardaí reluctant to clearly attribute falling figures to Covid-19 restrictions

Anton McNulty

THE most senior garda in Mayo says there is no clear evidence linking the big reduction of public order offences in 2020 to the enforced closure of pubs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chief Superintendent Tony Healy’s remarks were made after members of the Mayo Joint Policing Committee were told that public order offences in Mayo has fallen by 24 percent in 2020, with 497 arrests made so far this year compared to 655 for the same time last year. The number of minor assaults also fell, by 18 percent, with 208 recorded so far in 2020.
Serious assaults decreased by 29 percent, from 68 to 48.
The statistics led Independent councillors Michael Kilcoyne and Mark Duffy to ask whether the trend was attributable to Covid restrictions, and whether the numbers will rise again once these restrictions are lifted.
Responding, Chief Superintendent Tony Healy said there was nothing to suggest that the reduction in public order offences was purely attributable to Covid.
“While anecdotally you can say yes, less people out so there is less public order, but if you look at our drug detection, it has increased, so the collation isn’t as clear as if you might think,” he replied.

Thefts down
The meeting was also informed that there was generally a reduction in crime across the board in the county in 2020, with burglaries down by 55 percent and robberies down by 77 percent.
Outlining the crime figures, Det Joe McKenna said that of the property targeted, 30 percent were commercial buildings; 20 percent were residential homes; 20 percent were holiday homes; 11 percent were garages, sheds and containers; while 4 percent were schools and 3 percent were churches.
There was a significant reduction in thefts from cars, with 47 incidents occurring in 2020 – a 61 percent decrease on last year’s figures. Thefts around houses were down by 21 percent and thefts from shops were down from 122 last year to 47 this year.
On the roads
Supt Tom Calvey, the head of the Traffic Division in Mayo, told the members of the JPC that five people have died on the roads in 2020 which is the same figure as last year.
While the number of fatal road traffic collisions increased from three to five on last year’s figures, the number of serious and minor collisions has decreased.
There has been 18 serious road traffic collisions compared to 34 in the same period in 2019, resulting in 20 serious injuries – a decrease of 16 from last year.
Minor collisions are down from 88 last year to 66, and material damages to vehicles has also decreased from 847 to 655.
In relation to driving while intoxicated, Supt Calvey said that in 2020 there has been 2,171 checkpoints and that 168 people were arrested for driving under the influence. Of that figure, 145 were under the influence of alcohol while 23 were under the influence of drugs.
Supt Calvey added that the members of the traffic division are now equipped with advanced technology that allows them to process incidents at the scene instead of having to return to the Garda station, and they can also now detect vehicles without valid tax and insurance.