They’ve been punched, kicked in the face, chased with knives, headbutted and 6 other things we learned from RTE doc 'The Guards'
The Guards, which aired tonight on RTE Two, is a two-part documentary about frontline police-work in Dublin – specifically, the inner city.
Produced and directed by Barry O’Kelly, it follows the men and women of the capital’s North-Central Garda Division.
Tonight’s opener focused on the drugs trade. And as we saw over the course of an hour, this battlefield is no place for the fainthearted. Here are some things we learned:
1.North-Central Division, which ends at O’Connell Bridge, records 1200 incidents every week. Most of those are related to drugs, be that dealing itself or associated criminality and anti-social behaviour.
2.The control room is based in Store St station, across the road from Busaras. North-Central liaises with some 48,000 victims of crime every year.
3.Early on, we hear from Garda bosses that the current model for fighting drug-dealing “is not effective enough”. So a new strategy is introduced, spearheaded by Detective Sergeant Ciaran Whelan, which targets this illicit trade at the point of sale, to push dealers away from the city centre.
4.These yahoos hold little blocks of heroin in their mouth, as they stand around corners, waiting for a sale. Incredibly enough, they sometimes swallow it to avoid arrest. They also seem fond of swearing, giving the finger, spinning long lines of BS to investigating officers, and mooning the camera back at lock-up.
5.Under the Small Areas Policing Scheme, officers are given specific streets to patrol. This brings them closer to the people they’re serving, and makes it harder to just treat an incident as a statistical notion, rather than a real happening which involves real people.
6.The guards’ biggest concern is getting bitten by someone who has HIV or hepatitis. They’ve been punched, kicked in the face, chased with knives and bars, headbutted and pushed off their motorbike. Detective Sergeant Whelan reckons he’s been attacked “hundreds of time”.
7.By the end of the film, a meeting with local traders hears that the area is much improved, people feel safer, the streets have been cleared of a lot of drug-dealing and criminality. But this, you feel, is unfortunately just one victory – albeit a significant one – in a never-ending war.