Shatter defends cuts to garda budget
JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has defended cutbacks to the budgets of An Garda Siochana.
Mr Shatter was responding to new figures which show that prosecutions in the country's busiest criminal courts have plummeted in the wake of cutbacks to gardai and the Office of the DPP.
Cases at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court – where serious criminal offences from Dublin and around the country are tried – have dropped by a fifth between 2011 and 2012 alone and by a third overall since 2007.
The decline in the number of prosecutions in the capital's district courts – where minor offences are tried – is even more pronounced, with numbers dropping by a record 44pc between 2008 and 2012.
Mr Shatter said the Department of Justice was satisfied that, notwithstanding current financial pressures, there are "substantial resources available to the Garda Commissioner".
Mr Shatter, whose department has reduced the annual garda budget by a further €39m this year – part of a €62m cut in the overall justice budget for 2013 – said the programme of modernisation and reform which is under way is ensuring these resources are used to greatest effect.
"There are many factors which can affect the level of prosecutions, including underlying levels of reported crime, as well as the availability of alternatives to prosecution," said Mr Shatter in a statement.
Crime rates, which had been steadily rising for more than a decade, peaked in 2008, just as the economic crisis began.
And although many official headline crime rates, including homicides and dangerous driving, have fallen since 2008, burglaries, thefts of the person and sexual offences are on the rise.
Personal thefts increased nationally by 35pc and by 52pc in Dublin between 2007 and 2011, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which will produce the 2012 garda recorded crime statistics figures next month.
Burglaries increased by almost a fifth around the country during the same period.
The annual budget of the DPP fell by 18pc – from €44.78m to €36.77m – between 2009 and 2011.