In what is the first ever survey of its kind, 500 householders in Inishowen and East Donegal have been interviewed face-to face about crime in the area and it’s clear from the findings local people no longer believe crime is something that happens to others, not them.
Just under a third claim to have been victims of crime or anti-social behaviour within the last five years while more half (54%) say they have been forced to take additional security measures - alarms, cameras etc - with almost a third (31%) feeling compelled to get a dog.
One rather odd finding which is not explained - more than a quarter (27%) who were a victim of a crime or incidence of anti-social behaviour declined to report the incident to the authorities.
Inishowen TD, Padraig MacLochlain told the ‘Journal’ he hoped the survey would be a catalyst for not only a major discussion on law and order locally but would be coupled with a very real and sustained attempt to address the underlying causes of crime locally.
He commented: “It is apparent from the majority of people interviewed that they do not believe that a security response on its own will tackle crime and anti-social behaviour within their communities. The majority of people favour a response that addresses the root causes of crime and anti-social behaviour.
“For example, a significant number of people believe that drug and alcohol abuse coupled with economic factors have played their part in the escalating crime figures. That’s a big issue that needs to be addressed.”
Speaking with the Journal yesterday Inishowen councillor, Jack Murray, said his party’s mammoth undertaking in doing the research on the ground was ‘unprecedented’ adding that its conclusions needed to be addressed by the authorities as a matter of urgency.
Some of the other key findings were: 59% believe there is a serious problem with crime and anti-social behaviour within their community; 59% believe the level of crime and anti-social behaviour has risen over the past five years; 50% of persons interviewed believe that the Garda presence in their community has markedly decreased over the past five years; 79% of persons interviewed would like to see an increase in Garda patrols; a third (33%) do not feel safe going out at night in their local areas; 81% believe that parents should be held responsible for the actions of their children.
Deputy MacLochlainn concluded that he would be anxious that the public become more involved in reporting crime and in community alert schemes. This, he said, was vital in protecting the community.