Garda numbers not keeping pace with Swords population

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

Cllr Paul Mulville for Rush Lusk Ward has slated the lack of any notable increase in garda staffing numbers working from Swords Garda Station (GS).

The Social Democrats councillor stated that community policing garda numbers at Swords GS have not kept pace with a 46% increase in the town’s population over the past decade.

Figures released by the Department of Justice reveal that while the population of Swords rose from 36,900 to 54,200 (estimated) between 2011 and the present time, community policing numbers increased by only one, from eight to nine.

“The figures are a stark reminder of a lack of investment by the Government in our area,” said Cllr Mulville. “This is clearly one of the fastest growing regions of the country and yet garda resources have not kept up with that growth.”

According to the figures released following a Dáil question tabled for Cllr Mulville by Róisín Shortall TD, there were seven gardaí and one sergeant in the Swords Community Policing Unit in December 2011 – with eight gardaí and one sergeant there today.

In the intervening years, the numbers hit a high in 2012 of 14 – including two sergeants – but have been stable at either 9 or 10 since 2015.

Swords Garda station covers Swords, Donabate and Portrane.  Donabate has also seen an increase in population from 2011 to now from 6,778 to 8,187, an increase of 20%.

 “We’re not talking about a lot of new Gardaí here – a 46% increase in the population of Swords could have been matched by a similar increase in the Community Policing Unit numbers, which amounts to only four new gardaí.”

“It’s frustrating that in 2012, we actually had that number, but it’s also greatly concerning that with the population of Swords expected to rise by another 11%, or 6,000 people by 2029, and Donabate to see an estimated population increase of 3,000 people, we could be left further behind!”

In response, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice stated:

“The Government is committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána has the resources it needs, with an unprecedented budget of over €2bn for 2022. There was a very strong interest in this year’s garda recruitment campaign, with over 11,000 people applying to become a member.”

The spokesperson noted that while the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of garda business, including for the deployment of garda members, Minister McEntee and the Department of Justice have no role in relation to such matters.

“Swords Garda station is part of the DMR North Division, at 31 July 2022 there were 792 Garda members assigned to the DMR North, which represents an increase of 18% since December 2017 when there were 670 Garda members assigned. There were 80 garda members assigned to Swords GS at end July 2022 (an increase of 18% since end December 2017) when there were 68 garda members assigned to the station.

“Community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána, and all gardaí have a role to play in community policing in the course of carrying out their duties. On 30 June 2022, there were 67 Community Gardaí assigned to the DMR North. This represents an increase of 42.5% since December 2017 when there were 47 Community Gardaí assigned to the division, and 10 Community gardaí assigned to Swords Garda station.”

The spokesperson further noted that additional support is provided as required from the District Headquarters at Coolock Garda Station.

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