Gardai still under pressure
GARDA resources are slowly recovering following the end of the embargo on recruitment but the force still faces major challenges.
This was the stark message delivered at the annual meeting of the Joint Policing Committee for the Dundalk District held in Carlingford last week.
Chief Supt Christy Mangan pulled no punches as he outlined the challenges faced by gardai working along the border.
He revealed that he had met with the Assistant Commissioner for the Northern Region who was drawing up a blueprint for all developments along the border, for the manpower required to effective police the border.
‘ The crime rate in Louth is higher than in other counties,’ he said, adding that there was also a large population which comes in and out of the county on a daily basis.
Having served 36 years with An Garda Siochana, he welcomed the recent report on the future of policing in Ireland, as it outlined a plan for the future.
‘ The Government wanted this,’ he continued, and it was important the whole plan is implemented and that they don’t take an a al carte approach to it.
‘It’s a very good report,’ he stated, saying he hoped the government don’t leave it do gather dust. ‘If they do it’s a missed opportunity.’
The meeting heard that a number of factors were placing a high demand on garda resources in the Division.
There had been three murders in the county this year, giving it the highest murder rate outside of Dublin, said Supt Christy Managan.
These were demanding on resources and had to be dealt with in an extremely professional way.
Tackling the ongoing problem of anti-social behaviour in Carlingford at bank holidays and weekends was also a major drain on resources, with gardai from other unit being drafted into the village, outlined Supt Gerry Curley.
However, he warned that he had to be careful in terms of budget which was reduced as they neared the end of the year.
There had been an improvement in resources in the last number of years compared to when the moratorium on recruitment was in place, but it was a slow process.
Chief Supt Mangan added that five new sergeants had been allocated to the Division that very day, three for Drogheda and two for Dundalk.
There were also twelve gardai in Dundalk awaiting promotion to sergeant and he would like to keep every one of them in the division.
Micheal Gaynor of Dundalk BIDS complained that people were taking drugs in town centre car parks and streets on an on-going basis. ‘ The dogs on the street know it’s happening.’
‘ This is not the image we’d like for the town as we’re trying to promote the town as a place to do business.’
He said he would like to see a lot more engagement between the gardai and retailers and a more visual garda presence in town during the day.
Supt Curley said he was satisfied that they had improved garda visibility in town, pointing out that they monitor the local schools twice a day and that there is also a garda on business watch and town patrol.
He accepted that there ‘absolutely was a problem’ with drugs in the town centre but they had put in resources and had success in bringing people before the courts.
The meeting heard that gardai had responded to over 3,000 crimes and more than 4,800 non crime incidents so far this year,
‘It’s a busy district,’ Supt Curley said as he presented the locally collected statistics for the first nine months of the year.
Headline crimes included 89 serious assaults, 121 minor assaults, 33 sexual assaults, 27 threats to the person, many of which are drugs related.
Thirty-four arrests had been made in respect of possessing drugs for supply while 123 were arrested for possession of drugs for personal use at 123. The number of people stopped and searched was 974. Most of these searches related to people suspected of having drugs or offensive weapons as well as searches of property carried out under warrant.
Thirty people were arrested for carrying offensive weapons, 65 incidents of fraud, and 268 incidents of criminal damage, and 439 public order offences recorded.
There were 86 reports of missing persons, a demanding issue which placed serious pressure on garda resources, said Supt Curley.
During the first nine months of the year, there were 205 burglaries, 601 thefts, comprising 267 thefts from shops, 111 thefts from vehicles, 131 thefts (others), and 22 robberies.
A total of 495 vehicles were seized by gardai and 520 traffic offences were recorded.