Tuesday 20 August 2019

Garda traffic corps set to rise by 200 as death toll climbs past 2018 figures

Code of ethics: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Code of ethics: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Garda management are planning to increase the number of officers dealing specifically with roads policing by 200 personnel this year as deaths on roads continue to rise.

Senior gardaí have also said "key life saver" offences, such as drink driving and speeding, have increased significantly in the first three months of this year compared to 2018.

Assistant Garda Commissioner David Sheahan, in charge of roads policing and major events, told the Policing Authority that competitions will take place to increase the number of road traffic gardaí by 200 this year.

He added there "is no point of even applying" for gardaí who have not yet signed the code of ethics, which is close to half of the force.

While detections for traffic offences have increased, the number of road fatalities has also risen so far in 2019 compared to the same period last year.

Asst Comm Sheahan said mobile phone use while driving has increased by 24pc in the first quarter of this year, an increase of around 1,000 detections, while seatbelt offences are up by 46pc and speeding intercepts by gardaí have doubled.

The number of drink driving offences have also risen by 18pc, but despite more Garda activity, 51 people have lost their lives this year, an increase of five from the same period last year.

"We have a competition for 200 this year, whether we'll reach 200 is debatable as we move forward.

"The plan is that there will be 200 extra gardaí going into (roads policing) but that will be measured against the number we can bring in to the organisation, there were only 600 new people coming into the organisation this year," Asst Comm Sheahan said.

The senior garda also said that the increase in road offences may be driven by the upturn in the economy and people "taking a chance". He added the pilot roll out of the Activity Mobile app has significantly assisted gardaí policing the roads.

Concerns were also raised again about the code of ethics, with close to half of Garda members having not signed the code.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that, while no disciplinary action will be taken against members who do not sign the code, they will not be considered for promotions or competitions.

"There's no plan to make people sign by the actions we've outlined but there are more actions to follow.

We've already made it mandatory in terms of promotions," Commissioner Harris said.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News