Dáil Questions regarding Garda Numbers in Malahide, Balbriggan and Swords
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will outline in tabular form the current strength of An Garda Síochána in the Balbriggan (Y) District, Dublin and the Swords Sub District; the number of vehicles allocated; the number of Garda reserves present; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Reply from Minister for Justice Alan Shatter
The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the organisation and I have no direct function in the matter. This allocation of resources is constantly monitored in the context of demographics, crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.
I have however been informed by the Garda Commissioner that Swords and Malahide form part of the Coolock Garda District. The personnel strength, reserves and vehicles in the Balbriggan District and each of the Stations in the Coolock Garda District on the 31 May 2013, the latest date for which figures are readily available is set out below.
District/Station Strength Reserves Vehicles
Balbriggan 90 6 10
Coolock 111 8 15
Malahide 35 3 4
Swords 74 9 10
The allocation of Garda vehicles is monitored and reviewed on a continual basis. The responsibility for the efficient deployment of all official Garda vehicles in each Division is assigned to the Divisional Officer, who may allocate vehicles between Stations as required by operational circumstances
Headline crime rates fall in Malahide, Swords and Balbriggan
“There has been a reduced rate of residential burglaries in Malahide, Swords and Balbriggan in the first quarter of 2013,” according to Alan Farrell, Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal, commenting on the recent figures released by An Garda Síochána.
“Crime rates in Malahide and Swords are showing a marked improvement almost across the board, according to a report released by An Garda Síochána. The report shows that reductions in incidents of burglaries, car theft, public disorder, assault, criminal damage and drug possession have all taken place in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2012.
“Strategies involving smart policing, as well as the deployment of the community policing model have been part of An Garda Síochána’s Crime Prevention Measures. Operation ACER, which is designed to target known burglars has evidently had a large impact on residential burglary rates, which are down by 30%.
“I would like to compliment An Garda Síochána’s continued professionalism in protecting our towns, villages and citizens.”
5.5% Drop in Crime Levels Last Year
Figures issued today by the Central Statistics Office have shown a 5.5% reduction in crime rates last year. These figures also show that there has been in a reduction in 10 of the 14 crime groups for which figures are given over the previous year.
This reduction has been welcomed by Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter T.D. These latest statistics reflect the overall positive impact the Gardaí are having on crime.
The number of incidents of recorded crime report as per the report in 2011 was 258,161 and in 2012 was 243,896. The rising number of burglary incidents also started to reduce in 2011, coinciding with the introduction of Operation Fiacla.
The number of burglaries in the last quarter of 2012 is down 11% from the same quarter in 2011. There is also a welcome reduction of 15.8% in aggravated burglaries between 2011 and 2012. Robbery and theft offences also decreased by 3.9% and 0.6% respectively for the full year of 2012. Operation Fiacla is intelligence driven and, as part of that operation, specific burglary initiatives have been implemented in each Garda Region to target suspect offenders. As of end February 2013, 4,226 persons have been arrested and 2,327 persons have been charged under Operation Fiacla.
Minister Shatter has commented on the figures, noting with concern that there has been an increase in the number of homicides in 2012, and condemned those involved in a series of gangland crime related killings during the course of the year, “In the 12 month period ending June 2012 homicides were down by 17%.
“The increase recorded during the last six months of 2012 reflects the consequences of gang warfare and I am pleased that charges are now pending in respect of a number of individuals.
“In this context, it is important to acknowledge the considerable success the Gardaí have had in bringing prosecutions and disrupting organised criminal activity, despite the many challenges faced by the Gardaí in investigating these killings. We should also not lose sight of the fact that homicide numbers remain substantially lower than they were a number of years ago”.
The CSO report notes that in the period 2004 to 2012 homicide offences reached a peak in 2006 with 138 recorded offences and have since fallen to 66 in 2011, rising to 78 in 2012. While homicide offences increased (up 18.2%), assault and related offences decreased (down 10.3%), and there was small increase in sexual offences recorded (up 2.2%). Public order and damage to property offences are also down (by 10.8% and 8.3% respectively), as are drug offences (down 6.9%), kidnapping offences (down 10.1%) and weapons and explosives offences (down 13.6%). The reduction in drug offences by 6.9% is accompanied by Garda seizures of drugs during 2012 to an estimated value of €100m. The very substantial seizures are a welcome example of the effective targeting by An Garda Síochána of the drug gangs.
Garda numbers and financing would be lower under Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal, Alan Farrell, has today (Thursday) highlighted the hypocrisy of Fianna Fáil’s criticism of the Government’s management of Garda resources and stated that under Fianna Fáil’s ‘National Recovery Plan’ we would have less Gardaí and a smaller Garda budget.
“It is extremely ironic that Fianna Fáil has this week taken on the role of defender of An Garda Síochana and of public safety. Fianna Fáil’s own ‘National Recovery Plan 2011-2014’ published in November 2010 immediately prior to that Government’s agreement with the Troika gives the lie to this misconception. The plan would have directly led to a reduction in Garda numbers and bigger cuts in the Garda budget.
“Fianna Fáil have carried out a scaremongering campaign in order to put fear into rural communities that their localities will not be policed. This could not be further from the truth. Fianna Fáil can keep talking but the facts plainly speak for themselves.
“This Government has maintained higher Garda numbers than had been projected under Fianna Fáil’s plan. The budget for fighting crime is also considerably higher than what Fianna Fáil had allocated. *
“The current reforms being implemented are all about using our police resources more effectively. Under a recently agreed roster system, Gardaí spend less time behind their desks and more time out in the community. This will see an additional 61,000 patrol hours dedicated towards community policing, crime prevention and crime detection. These changes have been made possible by the closure of certain Garda stations, of which 94% were open for three hours a day or less, and the purchase of new Garda vehicles as sanctioned by Minster for Justice, Alan Shatter TD.
“I have seen closures of Rush Garda Station in my own constituency, as well as the curtailment of opening hours at the Garda station in Malahide, my hometown, but I am satisfied that the very noticeable increase in Gardaí on the beat means that the community is being more effectively policed.
“As the Garda Commissioner has said, with the modern transport and communication technology available to us we do not need more than 700 Garda stations for our population of 4.5 million. By comparison, there are 83 police stations in Northern Ireland for its population of 1.4 million, and 340 stations in Scotland for its population of 5.2 million.
“Fianna Fáil’s efforts to unnerve rural communities are cynical, opportunistic and disingenuous. I would ask them to give our modern, highly professional police service the credit it deserves and to stop trying to create fear among the public.”