Fianna Fáil’s Justice Spokesperson, Jim O’Callaghan TD has said the Minister must urgently clarify the State’s position with regard to the incidence of knife crime in this country.

It’s been almost 6 months since the Deputy first raised questions in the Oireachtas in an attempt to determine the number of crimes since 2011 which were carried out involving knives.

Five years on since the Central Statistics Office expressed serious concern about the quality of information provided by the Garda PULSE System, figures are yet to be produced.

O’Callaghan said, “It is an issue of concern that there appears to be no public scrutiny of the level of criminal activity in Ireland which involves the use of knives.

“I was informed earlier this month that the CSO does not release figures on the occurrence of crimes involving knives, nor does it appear that they will in the near future, due to concerns that the information provided through the PULSE database would yield inaccurate or misleading results.

“Despite this lack of data, there is growing evidence to suggest that a sub culture is emerging among sections of our society, where carrying knives is acceptable. The brutal nature of knife attacks and their devastating impact on victims underlines the need to eradicate this practice and help protect communities in Ireland on a 24/7 basis.

“Containing any further rise in knife crime or seizures here requires a number of measures. In the very first instance stricter sanctions need to be immediately placed on those who carry or use knives. More broadly, the underlying socioeconomic problems which have undoubtedly led an increase in the use of such weapons will need to be addressed.

“A similar strategy has yielded positive results in Scotland, and is currently being rolled out across parts of the United Kingdom whereknife crime has become an epidemic.

“In Glasgow, where dangers posed by knife-crime were previously severe, the police identified those who were most likely to offend. A newly established Violence Reduction Unit then engaged with these individuals to discuss the issue. Once involved they were told that should they continue their dangerous behaviour, the police would specifically target them for increased oversight.

“Most crucially, these young people were provided with wrap around services to change their behaviour including housing assistance, support to enter employment and opportunities in education.

“The number of knives seized by An Garda Síochána nationwide has increased by 66% in two years. There is growing anecdotal evidence too to show that knives are being used in a greater number of crimes, and yet neither the Minister for Justice, the Minister for Health, the CSO or the HSE can provide details. It’s very unsatisfactory.”