Friday 24 February 2017

Electronic tagging will be introduced for burglars on bail

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Frances Fitzgerald
Frances Fitzgerald

Gardaí will be able to request that alleged burglars are electronically tagged as part of their bail conditions under new laws to be introduced, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is to add the provision into her new bail bill which will is currently being completed.

Electronic tagging is available to the Prison Services on a minor scale at present but Ms Fitzgerald wants to open it up to the courts to decide if a person should be tagged before going on trial.

She hopes that this help prevent burglars from re-offending while on bail and help curb the growing fear about activities of rural crime gangs.

Ms Fitzgerald came under pressure from Fine Gael TDs at their parliamentary party meeting last night to do more about the wave of burglaries.

Tipperary TD Noel Coonan and others called for a tougher response to the issue of rural crime but others such as Roscommon TD Frank Feighan warned that they shouldn't create a false fear.

The Dáil also heard yesterday that people who are out on bail are committing 33 burglaries a week.

The minister put up a robust defence of her policies at the Fine Gael meeting and disrupted a document outlining what she has done to try reassure rural communities.

The document, seen by the Irish Independent, says that Fianna Fáil had promised "zero tolerance, but in fact, the number of offences committed by offenders out on bail peaked in 2008".

Ms Fitzgerald said that Fine Gael's response to crime is focused on two objectives: investing in more gardaí and vehicles; and strengthening the law to get tougher on serious and repeat offenders".

The briefing note went back as far as 1996 to point out to TDs that it was Fine Gael in a previous government that set up the Garda Air Support Unit.

Earlier this week, Minister Fitzgerald announced €5.3m to purchase a further 260 high-powered garda vehicles to patrol motorways.

Her bail bill is also to force courts to give reasons for bail decisions and new powers of arrest for gardaí when a suspect breaches the conditions of their bail.

It is understood that the new provisions will give gardaí the option of asking a judge to apply an electronic tag to a suspect they believe is likely to reoffend while on bail.

Irish Independent

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