herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Gardai's new focus on five flashpoint areas in the north inner city

Gardai on the boardwalk
Gardai on the boardwalk

Gardai have had great success in the implementation of a new policing plan which has led to an increase in garda patrols and checkpoints in "problematic" areas of the capital's north inner city.

Significant new resources have been put into the new strategy after five areas were identified during consultations with 15,000 people who live and work in the locality policed by Store Street Garda Station.

These are the Sheriff Street area, Dublin Port, the Liffey Boardwalk, the red line Luas and the O'Connell Street area.

The new plan involves extra officers being deployed to these areas at different times on different days, with a focus on daylight hours policing during the week.

DEPLOYED

On weekends, the extra officers will be deployed late at night and in the early hours of the morning.

The initiative is under the control of Chief Superintendent Pat Leahy and it is understood that the plan is already being considered "very successful" both in terms of "a deterrence factor and charges being brought against criminals".

A senior source explained that with an increase in "stop and searches" and more visible garda checkpoints in the five identified areas, the division's new burglary unit based at Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station has also been very proactive.

"There was a lot of concern in the locality that this station had effectively closed down but it now houses one sergeant and nine gardai who are part of a specialised new burglary unit whose task is to specifically target this problem.

"The early indications are that this has been very successful in the garda division as it has been in other divisions across the capital after it was outlined as a priority by garda headquarters recently," the source pointed out.

Last year, it emerged that gardai in the north inner city planned to go 'back to basics' to try and get to know the people and the communities they are involved in policing.

The new policing plan is designed to address the concerns of local residents and business about crime in the area.

The strategy comes following the success of a five-year pilot scheme that has been running in the most deprived parts of inner-city Dublin.

The strategy, known as the Small Areas Policing Programme, has been co-ordinated since 2009 by Chief Superintendent Leahy.

The scheme started in the East Wall area of Dublin and has since been rolled out to over 70,000 households across three stations, Store Street, the Bridewell and Mountjoy.

STRATEGY

The anti-drugs part of the strategy is known as Operation Spire and over €150,000 worth of drugs have been seized since its launched in January 2014.

The crackdown has also led to almost 600 charges against suspects - including possession of drugs, possession with intent to supply, possession of offensive weapons, theft, breach of bail, obstruction and public order offences.

Operation Spire combines high-visibility uniform patrols with dedicated covert plain clothes personnel working together with the main objective of targeting drug-dealing and antisocial behaviour on O'Connell Street, gardai say.

A similar investigation called Operation Tempest has also been in place which targeted the sale of heroin, cocaine and other controlled drugs.

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