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Courts will decide level of force homeowners can use to protect houses – Garda Commissioner


Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Photo: Tom Burke

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Photo: Tom Burke

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Photo: Tom Burke

THE courts will be the acid test on the level of force that homeowners can use to protect their home, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has revealed.

The Garda chief said the law is clear in terms of what citizens are entitled to do, but each incident will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Mr Callinan insisted the Director of Public Prosecutions was capable of assessing the merits and demerits of people who may be perceived to transgress what is beyond reasonable force.

"The use of force is something that's now catered for in legislation and I suppose the real acid test will be when some of these cases go to court in the determination of what is appropriate and what isn't," he said.

"All of these cases, I'm sure, will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and individual circumstances will dictate whether or not people have transgressed across the divide."

Launching a supporting safer communities campaign, Mr Callinan also revealed a rise in burglaries during the recession was a headache for the force.

Recent figures revealed just a quarter of the 25,377 burglaries committed in 2010 had been solved, with less than four out of ten thefts detected.

More than a quarter of burglars enter through the front door, a third through unsecured windows or doors, and almost a quarter of break-ins happen between noon and 4pm.

The commissioner said the main objective of the campaign was to engage with and raise awareness within communities of initiatives aimed at preventing crime, improving road safety and creating awareness of the services available to support victims of crime.

Measures include hosting Garda clinics and information stands in community halls, shopping centres and community policing units focusing on burglary detection and prevention.

"I am deeply conscious that our communities are sometimes as likely to be impacted by fear of crime as they are by a direct experience of crime," added Mr Callinan.

"Reducing that fear is of fundamental importance to us in An Garda Siochana and that is why we place a significant emphasis on working with communities and community groups so that our combined efforts can find better solutions to local problems and identify how we can best meet community needs."