Tuesday 16 January 2018

Minister for Justice Fitzgerald wants tougher sentences to tackle burglars

Minster for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald
Minster for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald

BURGLARS will face tougher sentences for repeat offences and judges will get strengthened powers to refuse bail under new legislation proposed by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Ms Fitzgerald will present her plan, aimed at cracking down on the worrying number of burglaries on family homes, to the Cabinet today.

It is understood it will include the introduction of new laws that would see burglars receive consecutive sentences at District Court level for repeat offences.

Ms Fitzgerald also hopes to strengthen judges’ powers to refuse bail and impose longer sentences for criminals who repeatedly come before the courts for break-ins.

The minister recently met senior gardai to discuss the force’s response to the wave of burglaries across the country.

Department of Justice officials recently completed a review of the system’s response to burglaries, which focused on break-ins carried out by repeat offenders.

Despite a small decrease in burglary figures last year, more than 26,000 break-ins are reported annually across the country, with Dublin the worst affected.

It was revealed last December that there had been a 15pc increase in break-ins in the Dublin Metropolitan Area despite the nationwide drop.

There was a dramatic spike in break-ins during the run-up to last Christmas, with an average of 54 homes targeted every day.

The most recent figures supplied by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show there were 26,430 burglaries and related offences nationwide in the 12 months up to the middle of last year.

Figures are not available for this year or the second half of 2014 due to an ongoing review of crime statistics supplied to the CSO by gardai following a highly critical report by the Garda Inspectorate.

Under Operation Fiacla, gardai have arrested more than 12,000 burglary suspects.

Operation Acer and Operation Creeper have also targeted gangs

carrying out burglaries.

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