Thursday, 14th December 2017
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Anti-social behaviour and aggressive professional begging continue to be an issue in and around Waterford City Centre, according to Cllr Eddie Mulligan. He reports that on an almost daily basis, he would receive a number of representations from businesses and members of the public, specifically in relation to both of these topics.

In fact, he states that due to his constant presence in the city centre, he has regularly borne witness to the problems first hand.

Due to his proactive work with the Gardaí, on the issues surrounding aggressive professional and fraudulent begging, Cllr Mulligan has also caught the eye of the very people that he is trying to move on from the city centre. He has been approached on a number of occasions by “Professional beggars” intent on tackling him on the subject.

Cllr Mulligan stated, “Only two Sundays past, whilst in the city centre with my family, I was approached, verbally challenged and abused by an individual.

Luckily, I saw this person approaching me and quietly, without fuss, moved my family on.

It is this sort of behaviour that we must work towards eradicating from Waterford City and the wider county. I am only too well aware how frightening this aggressive, hostile approach to ordinary members of the public is. There can be no doubt that there are cohorts of people targeting

Waterford City as a soft touch and we must drive forward a new strategy, with the Gardaí and other stakeholders to eliminate this cancer from Waterford, once and for all. These rogue individuals are preying on the kindness of Waterfordians. This is damaging to the genuine homeless people in Waterford who are desperately in need of our help, in the form of shelter, support and ultimately a stable home.”

Cllr Mulligan points out that under the current economic climate there is significant underfunding of policing for Waterford. The ratio of Gardaí to numbers of the population is 17% below the national average, per 1000 people. This clear imbalance for Waterford is unfortunately making Waterford policing reactive rather than proactive, accordingly to Mulligan.

“Our local Gardaí are under immense resources pressure. As such it is almost like they are constantly fighting a tsunami of crime, to the detriment of high visibility policing in our communities. To catch up with national norms they need urgent support and investment. With the limited resources currently available it is about targeted policing and working with stakeholders. The “Retail Watch” scheme has helped enormously in being an extra set of eyes immediately spotting “Troublemakers”.

Identifying, then targeting “Hot spots” around the city centre is also making a difference. Better use of CCTV once a possible crime has been flagged, is also very effective.

Working closer with businesses and members of the public will drive this scourge from our city centre. The statistics show that community co-operative policing works. Recently released Joint Policing Committee figures, have identified a 20% reduction in shoplifting, detection rate of 74% and theft from vehicle is down by 56%. Good statistics, but we must not rest on our laurels. These figures need to improve!”

Cllr Mulligan is advocating that businesses and members of the public concerned about any form of crime, anti-social behaviour or aggressive begging should attend the Joint Policing Committee meeting on 12th June. The theme of this open meeting is “Improving public safety, crime prevention and personal safety through working with communities”. The meeting takes place in the Park Hotel, Dungarvan and starts at 7pm.

A proposal, created by Cllr Mulligan, whereby members of the public will not need to hand money to beggars, will be introduced through Waterford Business Group and other stakeholders later this year. The scheme would enable members of the public to directly contribute to a “Bed for the night” for genuine homeless people.

Donations would be gathered and accumulated, via city centre business, through collection boxes placed in a selected number of retailers. This money would then be used for the frontline homing, feeding and clothing of genuine people in need. With the support of members of the public, Waterford would become the first city in Ireland to eradicate professional begging through Community collaboration, according to Cllr Mulligan. The project currently being developed will operate through first responders of a local charity and link directly with the responsible statutory agencies.

“Public confidence in personal safety needs to our number one priority in the City and we ALL need to work tirelessly towards this goal!” according to Cllr Mulligan.

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