herald

Monday 17 December 2018

Gardai call for Tasers as attacks hit 14-a-month

'Since 2012, 1,424 gardai have been left injured. Attacks peaked in 2015 when there were 298 incidents' (stock photo)
'Since 2012, 1,424 gardai have been left injured. Attacks peaked in 2015 when there were 298 incidents' (stock photo)

More than 1,400 gardai have been assaulted in the course of their duties in the past six years.

The attacks range from bites to serious multiple injuries, with several officers diagnosed with infections as a result of being assaulted.

Figures released to the Herald under a Freedom of Information request show that 158 gardai were attacked - 14 a month - in the first 11 months of 2017.

The ranks of the injured officers was not released because of the risk of "identifying the parties involved".

Since 2012, 1,424 gardai have been left injured. Attacks peaked in 2015 when there were 298 incidents.

However, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) believes the figure is much higher.

Spokesman John O'Keeffe said assaults were "hugely under-reported" and sentencing was not a deterrent.

"There is no comparable occupation where employees are likely to suffer such a debilitating range of injuries and subsequent illnesses while carrying out their normal operational duties," he said.

"Assaults on gardai are hugely under-reported from anecdotal evidence we get at the GRA.

"Members get attacked, punched and kicked routinely but often will just dust themselves down back at the station and go back out on their shift.

"Sentencing remains a big issue for our members. Criminals have zero fear because there are zero consequences in the courts for attacks on gardai."

He also called for non-lethal Tasers to be made available.

"Gardai are the last line between civilisation and barbarianism," said Mr O'Keeffe.

"Defend our defenders properly with non-lethal tasers, coupled with a functioning criminal justice system that defends their rights, or we will all pay the price."

Sprains

Officers in the DMR West division, covering Finglas, Blanchardstown, Ballyfermot and Lucan, have suffered most attacks, with more than 140 since 2012 and 19 last year.

Waterford and Kerry recorded the second and third-highest number of assaults with 111 and 87 respectively. DMR Traffic reported the lowest with seven.

The most common injuries inflicted were bruising, grazes and bites, which accounted for 563 of all wounds. Sprains and strains made up 367 of the injuries while closed fractures accounted for 123.

Infection resulting from an attack happened in nine cases. In four instances, serious multiple injuries were reported.

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