herald

Saturday 29 November 2014

City loses 10 community gardai in just two months

THE Dublin inner city has lost 10 community gardai in the first two months of the year.

Figures obtained by the Herald from the Department of Justice, Equality and Defence show a reduction in the most deprived areas of the capital.

Major cutbacks will see garda numbers cut from 14,500 to 13,000 under the Four Year Plan negotiated with the EU and IMF.

On December 31, 2010 the number of community gardai attached to Dublin's North and South Central garda divisions was 159 and 96 respectively.

On 28 February 2011, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the totals were 151 and 94, a decrease of 10.

With garda numbers dwindling, officers are responsible for interacting on the streets with members of the public and improving confidence and trust in the force in areas with problems such as petty crime and anti-social behaviour.



SAVINGS

Community policing was initiated by An Garda Siochana in November 1987.

Under community policing, a member of An Garda Siochana is given responsibility for policing a specific area.

He or she works in uniform and makes every effort to meet and build up a constructive relationship with the people who live there.

Garda Representative Association (GRA) president Damien McCarthy said reducing the force to 13,000 would have deadly serious consequences.

"We won't be able to cope," he said. "Gardai are snowed under with the volume of work they currently have."

Mr McCarthy claimed that the reduction of 1,500 would "give a free hand to the criminal element in society".

"There has been no let-up in crime in any area or in any area of crime," he added.

Under the Four Year Plan announced in December's Budget, garda numbers are to be cut by 1,500 -- more than 10pc of the force. The cuts, which will be achieved through retirements and natural wastage, will reduce garda numbers to 13,000. The plan also states there will be €25m savings from management efficiencies and €140m in overtime, allowances and transport costs.

The president of the GRA has heavily criticised the decision to downsize the force. "Garda numbers are vital to stem rising crime, the proposed further reduction is erroneous and a false economy," said Mr McCarthy.

"It is accepted worldwide that crime increases during a recession or when police numbers and morale are reduced. All these conditions are prevalent."

hnews@herald.ie

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