The rural crime crisis is a resources crisis
Published 28/09/2015 | 02:30
Crime and the fear of crime can vastly reduce the quality of life of citizens. Although overall crime rates have been remarkably stable in recent years, including in remote areas, the issue of rural crime is set to play a major role in the forthcoming General Election.
The issue has been placed centre stage following a number of high-profile incidents in rural areas in recent times.
The Government has responded to understandable public concerns with a series of measures.
These measures include planned reforms of our bail laws that could help break the pattern of repeat offenders committing further offences while on bail, and longer periods in jail for those convicted of multiple or subsequent offences.
New measures have also been mooted to enhance surveillance of sophisticated burglary gangs whose use of technology, including night-vision apparatus, has left gardaí trailing in their wake.
What we are experiencing now is not so much a crime epidemic (reports of which are common enough before any major poll) but a collapse in public trust in the capacity of the gardaí and the State to apprehend burglars and protect the most vulnerable in our midst.
That fear of crime is fuelled, in part, by a number of factors: the widespread closure of rural garda stations; the moratorium on garda recruitment - including the depletion of the traffic corps - and fewer gardaí visible in our communities, both urban and rural.
At its heart, the rural crime crisis is a resources crisis.
If 75pc of burglaries are committed by 25pc of offenders, then targeted, adequately resourced garda operations - such as those that have been deployed in the past - could go a long way to protecting communities and breaking travelling burglary gangs.