herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Cell closures in Dublin stations are a 'disaster' for the safety of gardai

Ballymun Garda Station
Ballymun Garda Station

Holding cells in Ballymun Garda station have not been in use for over six weeks, which has meant officers at the northside station have had to travel as far south as Irishtown Station, on the other side of the capital, to process prisoners.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has described the Ballymun Garda station situation as a "disaster" and has expressed concern for the safety of its members.

It is understood that the eight cells in Ballymun have been closed for health and safety reasons and are not expected to re-open until next month at the earliest.

Detained

The work at the station is being carried out under the control of the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Garda cells in Santry station, which is in the same district, are also not operational for health and safety reasons, which means officers have had to travel up to 15km away from where they make arrests before a cell is found for someone who has been detained.

The revelation comes as it has emerged that there are only six available cells in the Co Louth division, and none in the large town of Drogheda while essential planned work is being carried out to cell doors in Drogheda Garda station.

Sources said that rank-and-file gardai welcome the work that is being done on the cell doors in Drogheda Station because it will lead to improvements for the safety of gardai and prisoners in the station, but the situation is different in north Dublin where there is no contingency plan.

"The loss of cells in Ballymun is a disaster for members in the H district," GRA spokesman Colin Moran told the Herald.

Arrest

"After making an arrest, gardai are having to search for a station to accommodate the prisoner.

"Gardai have been taking these prisoners as far as Irishtown and Store Street stations because the cells in Santry are closed as well.

"This can be a danger to gardai when the prisoner proves to be violent," Mr Moran pointed out.

"When gardai are required to find accommodation for prisoners they are effectively removed from frontline policing for several hours.

"There are 2,500 fewer gardai than five years ago and the closure of 130 garda stations has proved a folly," Mr Moran added.

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