Number of Gardaí Hardly Improved at All in 6 Years and Many Counties in Crisis – Tóibín
In a response to a Parliamentary Question submitted by Aontú Leader and Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín the Minister for Justice has provided figures that show a “low numbers of Gardaí and a major inequality in how they are distributed in the state”. An Teachta Tóibín stated;
“According to a Eurostat report in 2016 Ireland had one of the smallest per capita police forces in the EU at 278 Garda for every 100,000 people. This was 40 police officers less than the EU average. But figures I have received today show that in 6 years that figure has hardly increased at all. Today according to the PQ response I have received from the Minister of Justice, there are only 14,283 Garda members across the state. With a population of €5.1million that means there are only 280 Gardaí for every 100,000 people in the state”.
“Its important to remember that the 2016 figure was a result of significant cuts in Garda numbers due to the austerity years. Yet today, when the government is squirreling away billions into a National Reserve Fund we have still one of the lowest numbers of police in Europe. Many people live in fear, Many people live in violent and lawless communities. Our public transport has become more dangerous. Many Garda Stations are closed and others are only part time. Gardaí are facing increasingly violent situations on their own”.
“The distribution of Gardaí is also of major concern. The Minister for Justice’s own county of Meath has the lowest number of Gardaí per capita in the state at 1 Garda for 668 people. This is nearly half the number of Gardaí per capita as the rest of the state. Wicklow, Kildare, Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford are also poorly served by the number of Gardaí available. Some of this is down to a rapidly increasing population in some counties and investment in Gardaí is not keeping up. But its wrong to leave certain counties without a line of defence against crime. This has a real effect on communities”.
“I am on the Meath Joint Policing Committee and some of the information that we are getting back is incredible. In one division in Meath so far this year there was 50 burglaries. Yet the Gardaí have not been able to detect the criminals behind any of these burglaries so far. Indeed detection rates in the county as a whole are incredibly low. There were 281 burglaries committed so far this year and only detections recorded 22 of these. Remember detections are not convictions they are simply arrests”.
“I understand that big counties with low populations will still need Gardaí to cover the area. I also know that crime may be significantly worse in certain areas but, we have far too few Gardaí as a country and we have unequal distribution of the Gardaí we have. I have met with 2 Chief Supper Intendents, the Head of Garda HR and a Regional Commissioner on this but nothing has changed. The Minister is responsible that there is fairness in policing. Its time she did her job”.