Monday 18 June 2018

GRA calls for gardaí to get Tasers as 12 injured on duty every week

Stock picture
Stock picture

Gordon Deegan

More than 12 gardaí, on average, were injured on duty every week last year.

Figures provided by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan show 635 were hurt in 2017. Although down on the 664 injured in 2016, it is slightly more than in both 2014 and 2015.

So far this year, 181 officers have sustained injuries, bringing the total since the start of 2013 to 3,252.

Mr Flanagan revealed the statistics in a written Dáil reply to Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan.

In response to the figures, Garda Representative Association (GRA) spokesman John O'Keeffe said: "The latest figures do not surprise the association and are something we have been speaking about for a long time now.

"They only present part of the story as many of our members may not report assaults on them for a variety of reasons.

"The truth is they simply do not have the physical supports to their job. This impacts hugely on their mental well-being.

"Over 6,000 gardaí have been recorded as injured in the course of duty in the last 12 years.

"Many more are unrecorded, perhaps twice that figure."

Mr O'Keeffe called for gardaí to be better equipped to help prevent them coming to harm.

"Tasers must now be rolled out to all frontline members," he said.

"Similarly, bodycams are a vital tool in ensuring that incidents are captured for all parties concerned and for our members' mental health."

Survey

Mr O'Keeffe revealed that the GRA has commissioned an independent well-being survey by Dr Finian Fallon, who will report to the association's annual conference next week.

"This will provide fresh empirical evidence of the type of mental health issues being suffered by our members on the ground," he said. "While the 24/7 counselling service is to be welcomed, unfortunately it operates as merely a band aid to a much bigger wound.

"It has now come time that a full occupational health survey of all our members is conducted by the organisation, so that all the necessary protections may be put in place for them."

In his written reply, Mr Flanagan said: "We should never underestimate the difficulties and dangers the men and women of An Garda Síochána face on our behalf and the courage required to face down criminals in dangerous circumstances.

"The Government is committed to supporting their work and ensuring that the organisation is properly resourced.

"I am assured by the Garda Commissioner that An Garda Síochána is committed to ensuring that members exposed to a traumatic incident or injured on duty receive the appropriate organisational response.

"With this in mind, the Garda employee assistance service provides a confidential professional support and referral service to both serving and former member, students and their immediate families."

Irish Independent

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