WITH the summer season in full swing and festivals about to take place across West Cork, it’s a great time for socialising and getting communities together. But it’s also a timely reminder about the consequences of being involved in public order offending or assaults.
Speaking to The Southern Star, Sgt James O’Donovan, crime prevention officer (CPO) of the Cork West Division said that gardaí have noticed a slight increase in public order incidents across West Cork, which is cause of concern to them.
‘Obviously there is a lot more socialising going on compared to five years ago and that’s due to the upturn in the economy and people having more money and they’re going out, not only on Friday and Saturday nights, but also Thursdays,’ said Sgt O’Donovan.
‘What we have also noticed is that there is an increase in recreational drug-taking among young people as a means of socialising and these are feeding the public order incidents. Some seem to be staying away from alcohol and using drugs instead.’
As Sgt O’Donovan is keen to stress it’s all about pre-empting this type of offending and getting the message out there of the serious ramifications that a criminal conviction may have on any one individual.
‘It all comes down to what we call the ABC’s – everyone is accountable for their own behaviour and their own actions; then there are personal boundaries in that you cannot encroach on an individual’s personal space when you are out socialising, be that under the influence of alcohol or other substances. As a result of crossing over into peoples’ boundaries you will have consequences which are then dealt with by the Gardaí and the District Courts in West Cork.’
It is well known too that the District Court in West Cork has a low tolerance when it comes to public order offending and assaults and a conviction may arise depending on the situation.
‘Use your brain and not your fist – that’s one of the mottos’ used in the nationwide poster campaign and we’re asking not just young people but those of all ages to seriously think twice before they get involved in public order or assault incidents,’ added Sgt O’Donovan.
A conviction for any public order offence can have serious consequences for a variety of reasons, which may not seem apparent at the time to the person involved in the offending.‘The consequences of having a conviction may affect any future employment that requires garda vetting and someone may find it very difficult to get any job with a criminal conviction. Also, if you plan to travel and apply for visas, you won’t get one to travel to America or to other countries. The same goes for those applying for college courses where a previous conviction may affect your prospects to be selected for a certain course.’
One area that people may not be aware of how a conviction affects them is coaching. ‘Even if you wanted to go coaching at your local GAA, soccer or rugby Club sometime down the line you will be vetted so it’s important to know that your behaviour now could have a detrimental affect on your plans in the future.’
Now that the summer has arrived and with plenty of festivals on throughout West Cork, Sgt O’Donovan is asking people to enjoy themselves, but to behave.
‘We, too, will have a good presence at all festivals in West Cork, policing all aspects of public order as well as targeting under-age drinking.’
Sgt James O’Donovan, CPO for the Cork West Division, can be contacted at Bandon Garda Station at 023-8852261 or by emailing him at [email protected]