Garda presence keeps South Westmeath roads fatality-free

For the first time since records began there has not been a road fatality in the south of Westmeath to date this year.

This was revealed at a meeting of the joint policing committee for the Athlone/Kilbeggan Area in the Civic Centre, Athlone this week.

“Touch wood, we haven’t had a road fatality in the [Garda] district this year,” Superintendent Noreen McBrien told the quarterly meeting of councillors and community activists.

Cllr Colm Arthur enquired about two recent fatalities - a motorcyclist, and a pedestrian - on the old N6, between Rochfortbridge and Tyrrellspass, but Supt McBrien respectfully pointed out that these fatalities occurred in the Mullingar Garda District.

She believed the positive figures were on account of a more focussed Garda presence in this key area of policing, and that the message was getting through to the people of south Westmeath.

“There has been an increase in checkpoints, but less people presenting with alcohol,” she said, before outlining the other encouraging figures.

“Burglary figures have been dropping over the last three months [since she last reported to the meeting], but we are coming into the dark nights, and so I would advise people to use their alarms and locks.

“Don’t leave stuff visible from windows,” said Supt McBrien.

She pointed out that Westmeath had two crime prevention officers - Sergeant Andy Haran in Athlone, and Sgt Connolly in Mullingar - who would advise anyone who asked about how best to minimise one’s chances of becoming a crime statistic.

The superintendent went on to ask that the public do a little more to help An Garda Siochána in preventing theft from cars.

“I still see mobile phones, and handbags left in cars, and then people say: ‘Ah, I was only in the shop for a minute’, or ‘I was just visiting the grave’. We hear that a lot,” she added.

“If the community can help us to help them ... ,” she pointed out.

Supt McBrien went on to reveal that the most prevalent crime in the district - public order offences - was “much the same [since her last report] but almost every one is detected, with the perpetrators getting an adult caution, a fine, or a court appearance”.

She went on to tell the meeting that there had been a number of drug seizures in the District this year but that they had been small, and that though there had been a marginal increase in grafitti (by approximately 1 per cent ), both assault and criminal damage figures were also decreasing.

Supt McBrien also wanted to reassure retailers in the District who had been complaining about the policy of test purchases of cigarettes by minors.

“Test purchases are not being done behind people’s backs. Sergeant Haran has held an information day with licencees recently,” she declared

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