herald

Friday 2 December 2016

Assaults on gardai are ‘far worse’ than statistics suggest

Gda Helena Power, who was attacked in the line of duty
Gda Helena Power, who was attacked in the line of duty

MORE than 2,000 gardai have been assaulted on the streets since 2011, according to official figures, but the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has claimed the problem is even worse.

Figures released by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald show that 2,113 gardai have suffered injuries in the course of duty in the past four years.

However, according to a GRA spokesman, the situation is more serious than the official figures suggest.

Crime

“We believe those figures are totally under-reported. Our latest figures show that there are as many as three gardai assaulted every day. At the moment we think they’re under-reported,” he said.

“It shouldn’t be a part of anyone’s job to be assaulted. If a garda is assaulted, they’re a victim of crime.”

The GRA previously ran a campaign showing pictures of Gda Helena Power and Gda Jeffrey White with injuries they sustained in the line of duty as a reminder of the dangers that members of the force face on streets across the country.

They are calling for steps to be taken to offer gardai more protection when carrying out their duties.

“We have called for extra legislation and stiffer penalties for anyone who assaults a member of the emergency services,” the GRA spokesman said.

He added that “gardai face every imaginable danger in the course of their work, and are duty-bound to step between the public and danger”.

“Every operational garda faces uncertainty on every shift, and far too many are victims of criminal assault,” he said.

“Being assaulted can never be regarded as part of the job. All victims of assault suffer from physical and psychological trauma.

“Every garda deserves every available protection that the State can afford them.”

In 2006, stab-proof vests were introduced into the force following the stabbing of two officers in Raheny, Co Dublin, the previous year

“They aren’t pieces of jewellery – there is a need for such items,” the GRA spokesman said.

The Justice Department’s statistics on the number of assaults on garda members was revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question posed by Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan.

He called the figure “alarming” and said the level of assaults “presents a serious threat to the administration of law and order”.

Worry

“The high number of gardai injured on duty is a worry. It also means that these gardai are then no longer available for duty,” he said.

Mr Durkan suggested that, based on the figures he received, there was “a growing disrespect for authority in

general and of An Garda Siochana.

“There is a need for more respect for our gardai and re-affirmation of support for their work, which they often do in very trying circumstances.”

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