Wednesday 26 October 2016

Anti-crime initiative requires resources

Published 02/11/2015 | 02:30

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan

The latest anti-crime initiative to be launched by the Government today deserves a cautious welcome. The crime package, aimed at targeting a small number of prolific offenders responsible for a large number of burglaries, comes on the eve of the General Election, one which will be dominated by, among other things, voter concerns over crime, particularly in rural areas.

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There is a pattern in almost every electoral cycle of anti-crime packages being announced at critical intervals, only for those initiatives to fall away as resources and public anger subside.

The latest initiative has much to commend to it.

It includes increased co-ordination of the flow of information and intelligence between garda regions to help intercept mobile gangs using high-powered vehicles to commit burglaries in rural areas before returning to their urban bases.

It also includes the assignment of case-management officers to the main targets, boosting crime-analysis capacity and proposed changes to our bail laws - that will be debated this week - to reduce re-offending.

The ability of the gardaí and the judiciary to implement the new measures is entirely contingent on the resources available to them, supports that must not wither once the political furore over rural crime dies down.

However, even with the resource constraints that have affected all public services, including health and education, as well as policing, the justice sector must step up and reform many of its systems and practices.

The biggest wins in criminal justice are often earned on the back of targeted, intelligent reforms. The public deserves more than big-ticket public-relations exercises.

Irish Independent

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