THERE have been calls for the Minister for Justice to increase garda numbers in the Dublin Mid-West region amid claims of a low-level crime epidemic in the area.
Garda numbers in the region currently stand at 269 – down from 287 in 2012.
This is despite the fact that almost 1,000 recruits have graduated since the Garda Training Centre in Templemore reopened in 2014.
Deputy John Curran (FF) – a member of the Joint Policing Committee – said that he will be calling on Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to increase garda resources in the area.
He said: “No additional gardai have been allocated to Dublin Mid- West since training resumed in 2014.
“This is abysmal, considering the fact that just under 1,000 new gardai have graduated from Templemore in that same period.
“There is no doubt that areas in Dublin Mid-West such as Lucan, Ronanstown and Clondalkin have suffered as a result of the Government’s refusal to allocate significant resources to the county.
“The strength of the force locally currently stands at 269 [gardai] – a marked drop from the 287 officers stationed in the area in 2012.
“We need to see more gardai on the streets and in our towns and villages. Visibility plays a huge part in deterring crime and easing the fears of local people.”
Cllr Liona O’Toole (Ind) – also a member of the Joint Policing Committee – has started a petition calling for additional resources for the region.
She told The Gazette that people want to see numbers restored to their previous level.
“We’re really looking to bring the numbers back to where they were before and also take in to account the fact that the population has since grown in the area.”
Cllr O’Toole added that statistics that show new gardai have been assigned to an area can be misleading.
She said: “Statistics can be very helpful to a certain extent, but sometimes you have to drill behind those statistics. You might be told there’s five new guards being put in to a particular station, but you’re not told, at the same time, that there are people retiring or leaving for various reasons.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said: “The Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021, comprising 15,000 garda members, 2,000 reserve members and 4,000 civilians.
“In 2017, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide-ranging reform plan in train within An Garda Siochana. Funding has also been provided for the recruitment of 300 reserves.”
The spokesperson said that significant resources have been made available to gardai under the Government’s Capital Plan 2016 – 2021, with €205m in additional funding for information and communications technologies, and €46m for new vehicles that should allow for increased garda visibility.
The spokesperson added that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 1,200 new recruits have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, 103 of whom were assigned to the Dublin Metropolitan Region West Division, including 15 from the last attestation on July 6.