Specialist garda units beefed up by recruitment drive
Garda specialist units are to be given a big manpower boost in the new year as the impact of the resumed recruitment campaign feeds through the ranks of the force.
A total of 100 detective gardaí and 60 detective sergeants are being allocated to the units, which operate under the umbrella of Special Crime Operations (SCO).
The majority of the new personnel will come on-stream in the early part of the year.
They will be used to beef up the drugs and organised crime, criminal assets, immigration, economic crime, cyber crime and criminal investigation bureaux.
The future of the anti-burglary initiative, Operation Thor, has also been secured for 2017 following the latest figures, which show that the number of burglaries in the year up to the end of September dropped by 31.2pc, or 8,857 offences, compared with the corresponding period in 2014/15.
Thor, which was launched in November last year, was set up to identify and target the main players in the burglary spree that had ravaged urban and rural areas over the previous few years.
Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Driscoll, who is in overall charge of SCO, said that the successes of the past year showed what could be achieved when an initiative was given the necessary resources, including manpower and equipment.
With the assistance of analysts, officers have identified those they believe to be the most prolific burglars and established when and where they are likely to strike.
A big focus has been placed on the regional travelling gangs who are based in urban centres, mainly in west and south Dublin, but use high-powered cars on the improved roads network to target homes and businesses around the country.
"We now have the resources to allow us to react quickly if a burglary is reported and intercept these gangs as they return home, as well as send out regular mobile patrols to act as a deterrent," Mr O'Driscoll said.
The regular Garda units involved in Thor are being backed up by specialist squads, including the drugs and organised crime bureau, the criminal assets bureau and fraud officers in tackling the suspects regarded as being in "level one" of the burglary table, as well as some mid-ranking thieves.
Some of the specialist units have been rebranded to mark a new focus in their work, or an expansion into types of crime that are seen as growth areas in the future.