The number of people being caught with drugs in their possession in Longford is continuing to rise with latest figures showing a ten per cent increase over the past 12 months.
Statistics presented at last Wednesday’s meeting of Longford Town Council’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) also showed a marginal increase in burglaries since September 2012.
But it was the apparent rise in drug detections which led to plenty of debate among the JPC’s eight elected members.
Superintendent Denis Shields hinted at the recent re-allocation of the region’s divisional drug unit as a reason for the upsurge in detection rates.
“The sale and supply of drugs in Longford is being adequately dealt with by our drugs unit and detective branch,” he said.
Cllrs Mae Sexton and Tony Flaherty, meanwhile, both said the changing trend in combating dru- related offences was down to greater resources being levelled at the problem.
“It just goes to show you that when we shouted loud enough (for the return of drugs the unit) somebody listened,” said Cllr Sexton.
Her Fianna Fáil counterpart, Cllr Tony Flaherty revealed it was he that first sought the redeployment of dedicated drugs officers to the town two years previously.
Now, with the move confirmed, he pointed to a worrying trend along one of the county town’s most scenic walkways.
“I have seen drug deals taking place by the (Royal) Canal and it’s something that is happening at every street corner,” he said, as he asked for Community Gardaí to carry out more frequent patrols of the area.
Cllr Peggy Nolan underlined those sentiments as she called for an increasing visibility of gardaí on foot patrol.
“I believe Longford has turned a corner with four new retail outlets coming to the town. It’s a vote of confidence and with the excellent performance of Longford Tidy Towns, having that extra presence will give people that extra sense of security,” she said.
Responding to those concerns and allegations of drug dealing close to the Royal Canal, Supt Shields said he would closely study the remarks over the coming weeks.