Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Garda says the closure of rural stations has helped reduce crime

A total of 139 stations – mostly in rural areas – were closed by the last government. Stock Picture
A total of 139 stations – mostly in rural areas – were closed by the last government. Stock Picture
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The closure of Garda stations in recent years has freed up more Garda hours and resulted in lower crime rates, according to Assistant Garda Commissioner, Jack Nolan.

Addressing an Oireachtas Committee this week, Mr Nolan said An Garda Síochána being part of the public service were asked to make hard choices in the very difficult financial years of 2007 – 2014

“We closed 139 Garda stations across the country. We also amalgamated 26 Garda districts into 14 bigger districts. We were also faced at that time with a significant attrition of our Garda fleet."

He said each one of the Garda station closures were carefully analysed and said "the rationale was could An Garda Síochána provide a service from an alternative location?," he said.

Assistant Garda Commissioner, Jack Nolan
Assistant Garda Commissioner, Jack Nolan

Mr Nolan also pointed out that the monetary savings as a result of the policy were quite small. “Over all about €1.5m per annum was saved by the closure of the Garda stations.” he said.

However, he highlighted not having to open those Garda stations generated 64,000 man hours available for patrol and presence in the communities.

“At a time when our numbers reduced by about 2,000 and our budget was also significantly reduced. We where able to maintain our presence in communities through those increased hours.

The result of the decision he said has been manifested in the last number of years with reductions in crime.

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He described the reductions as ‘fairly spectacular’ citing a 34% reduction in national burglaries.

Mr Nolan also moved to reassure the public about the feared strike by gardaí, guaranteeing there will be officers on the streets tomorrow.

Nolan conceded there would be a "significantly reduced Garda service" if the industrial action went ahead, but that emergency calls "will be responded to".

He told an Oireachtas Committee he would not comment on the negotiations with the Garda representative associations aimed at resolving the row over pay.

But Mr Nolan gave details of the contingency plan to police the country if industrial action by more than 12,000 gardaí can't be averted.

"What I can guarantee you is that there will be gardaí on the streets," he told TDs. "There will be garda members working on November 4 and calls for assistance will be responded to.

There may have to be a priority with regard to some of them but they will be responded to."

He said the actual number of gardaí that would report for duty was "a matter of negotiations", but 450 student gardaí would be available, as would 400 probationer members, and about 220 senior officers such as superintendents and assistant commissioners.

Mr Nolan said the staff associations had also said the armed Emergency and Regional Response Units would also be available for duty and the Technical Bureau and National Surveillance Unit would have "capabilities".

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