independent

Thursday 18 September 2014

Just one squad car for population of 40,000

chief super speaks at 'townwatch' meeting

Olivia Ryan

Published 24/04/2013 | 05:20

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DUNDALK gardai have just one squad car to police a population of 40,000 along the border, according to Louth's Chief Superintendent, Pat McGee.

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The garda chief told the recent meeting of the 'Townwatch' crime prevention scheme that there were 54 incidents of crime and detection in the last quarter.

He explained the extensive area his officers had to cover, which included a population of over 40,000 geographically from Dundalk, Ravensdale, and Blackrock, with only one vehicle.

Townwatch was set up in 2012 to include representatives of local Gardai and the business community in Dundalk to address ongoing difficulties within the town, in particular the impact on local retail business's suffering sustained loss through frequent shoplifting, begging, damage and intimidation.

At the recent meeting, members of the scheme raised concerns raised about an 'apparent lack of resources and uniformed officers policing the town's streets.'

The meeting heard concerns that this lack of a visible presence of gardai led to more criminality. Calls to Dundalk station were also going unanswered, the meeting was told.

Manager at the Marshes Shopping Centre, Harry Traynor suggested that the garda Pulse figures were 'not a true reflection on criminal activity within the town.'

He added that whilst the Chamber of Commerce and Town Centre Commercial Manager's office and tourism sectors were 'working diligently to try and improve the image of Dundalk town that work was being undone daily by the Garda inability to deal with persistent offending and nuisance.'

He said that all members of the 'Townwatch' scheme 'could list habitual offenders who, it appeared, were on a cycle of court appearance, committing offences daily.

Mr. Traynor said it was a 'wearing down process affecting not only individual businesses but reflected badly on the town as a whole.'

Chief Supt. Pat Mc Gee told the meeting that he accepted that the current view did not reflect the willingness of his officers to deal with these issues and offered to review the existing staffing levels.

He confirmed the appointment of a uniformed officer to town duties between the hours of 10am and 6pm daily, Monday to Saturday, for a three month period after which the appointment would be reviewed.

Townwatch Chairman, Sean Farrell, commented welcomed the appointment, adding that it was essential that all offences are reported to Gardai including; drunkenness, nuisance, begging, shop theft, robbery.

'We cannot hope to improve our town image, nor influence the provision of either uniform policing or transport if the data collated by Pulse is inaccurate. Local Garda need to know what is happening on the street if they are to be effective in dealing with all criminal activity. It doesn't matter how many times you call them but do call them.'

Members are encouraged to provide reports direct to Dundalk Garda station on 042 9388400 or to Townwatch collators office on 9395240 [Shane Hutchinson ] .

Messages can also be sent via e-mail to harrytraynor@marshesshopping.com for progression or forwarding to the Townwatch Group e-mail.

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