A COUNCILLOR has called for a new approach to tackling anti-social behaviour in Waterford’s inner city.
Eamon Quinlan wants tougher tactics, with gardaí issuing ASBOs (anti-social behaviour orders) instead of cautions.
“Gardai can issue such ASBOs on the spot and they can be registered with the courts resulting in a fine of up to €800 or up to eight months detention,” said the Fianna Fáil councillor.
He said there had been a noticeable rise in complaints from small businesses who feel potential customers are not coming into the city centre during evenings because of an intimidating atmosphere at times.
This chicken and egg situation leads to many businesses not operating in evenings, thereby reducing the retail offering
“This chicken and egg situation leads to many businesses not operating in evenings, thereby reducing the retail offering,” he said.
“The night time economy in Waterford is still recovering and the inability to expand retails opening hours means large sections of the city are left vacant for long stretches, creating a perfect environment for large groups to congregate and effectively take over notable areas like John Roberts Square.”
Cllr Quinlan told Waterford Today: “Up until now the go-to move for the gardaí is a formal or informal caution. The draw back here is that a family welfare conference usually takes up to a year to be held.
While they are placed under the supervision of a juvenile liaison officer, crucially they cannot be given a custodial sentence for the offence they are responsible for.
“This has been broadly criticised as being ineffective and more akin to a catch and release policy that allows offenders skirt consequences of their actions.”
Cllr Quinlan said ASBOs were the way to combat this.
“They are specifically designed to address youths up to 18 years of age who do not warrant criminal proceedings but are engaging in behaviour such as harassment, and persistent intimidation that effects the wider community,” he said.