Senior gardai are to prepare a detailed report on Longford town’s Mall Complex amid concerns about a rise in anti-social behaviour.
Superintendent Denis Shields told a recent meeting of Longford town’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC), he remained fully intent on tackling the issue after it emerged a number of late night drinking incidents had been reported in recent weeks.
Speaking about similar problems identified and debated at previous JPC meetings, the Longford Garda chief stressed the importance of adopting a wide ranging inter-agency approach.
“I think the Mall is another of those issues that collectively we are going to have to try and get our heads around,” he said.
Part of that focus, he said, might be best served through the compilation of a thorough action plan, the results of which he added, would be unveiled at the Town Council’s next JPC meeting.
One of the committee’s elected members leading calls for heightened Garda action inside the Mall at evening times was Cllr Tony Flaherty. He said there was little use in closing the facility’s gates at night if unruly behaviour was still going on.
“ There is no point in closing gates if people can still access it,” said the Fianna Fail councillor. “The night of the Leaving Cert Mass we had parties in the Mall with students drinking after hours. We have gates put in and as far as I can remember I have never seen any joyriding or people doing doughnuts. What I have seen on numerous occasions is pedestrians under the influence of alcohol, partying late at night and causing havoc. I’m not going to keep harping on about this meeting after meeting but something has to be done.”
Another representative, Cllr Michael Connellan backed up those fears. The Longford town solicitor suggested the council should perhaps examine the possibility of securing additional funding with a view to upgrading the Mall’s present CCTV camera system.
Town Clerk, Dan Rooney was more guarded, revealing financial constraints could hinder those plans.
“The CCTV cameras that are in the Mall were installed as part of the construction of the swimming pool. Unfortunately the standard of them isn’t anything like the standard we have in the town.
“The company in the Mall don’t have the resources to install a better system and we (council) haven’t set aside any money for new cameras in the Mall either,” he said.
As those discussions continued, Supt Shields said his biggest headache from a crime perspective had more to do with more serious headline offences.
“The main policing issues in Longford town that I have over the past six months have been burglaries,” he said, indicating the vast majority of break-ins over the past number of months had been confined to the Longford town area.
Despite changes to garda rosters and targeted surveillance measures such as Operation Aimsir, burglaries as well as internet fraud were still key areas of concern, he said.
“Fraud and internet fraud is something we are dealing quite a bit with at the minute. The cloning of credit cards and the dishonesty of the internet by some people are leading some people into handing over cash or buying stuff which is not what it proports to be,” added Supt Shields.