Monday 21 October 2019

Gardaí overspent budget for first eight months of 2019 by €32m

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was speaking at a Policing Authority meeting (Niall Carson/PA)
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was speaking at a Policing Authority meeting (Niall Carson/PA)
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

The Gardaí overspent its budget for the first eight months of 2019 by €32m - and now a range of cutbacks have been introduced to reduce the deficit for the rest of the year.

Commissioner Drew Harris has said that the profiled budget up until the end of August was €1.09bn, with the overspend amounting to €32m.

As a result, Mr Harris said, "it has been necessary to identify a range of capital and current expenditure adjustments to year end".

The Gardaí chief made the comments in his monthly report to the Policing Authority in which the oversight body are briefed on a wide range of matters including finance and operational successes.

In the most recent report, published this week, Mr Harris outlined that the total net expenditure by the end of August was just over €1bn.

This was €2.4m more than profiled. However, if savings in some subheads due to timing differences are excluded, the gross year overspend by the end of August was €32m.

Stock picture
Stock picture

The cost of the visits of US President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, estimated to be between €15m and €18m, was drawn from the annual Garda budget.

READ MORE: State pays Donald Trump's Doonbeg resort €113k to feed and accommodate gardaí during US President's visit

Late last month an overtime ban across the organisation was introduced, save for exceptional circumstances such as major criminal investigations or gangland operations, which still need approval from Garda management. The cutbacks on overtime was one of several measures introduced to reduce the overspend.

In his opening remarks within the report, Drew Harris also outlined the importance of community policing within the new Garda operating model.

Between 50pc and 60pc of all Garda resources in each division will be devoted to community policing.

Two distinct crime trends were also noted, which were the downward trend in property crime, and the increase in offences against the person, sexual crimes and public order offences.

These, Mr Harris said, were being closely monitored and adequate operational activities to reduce and prevent crime will be carried out.

In terms of Garda numbers, by September 6, a total of 495 had been reassigned to operational duties.

Last month there were 173 gardaí on sick leave after being injured on duty, while 39 were suspended from duty at the beginning of last month.

Policing success were also highlighted within the Commissioner's Report to the Policing Authority.

They included the policing of the Electric Picnic festival in Stradbally, Co Laois; the Garda operation against a suspected ATM theft gang in Cavan; and an operation by the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau on a burglary crew in west Dublin.

READ MORE: 'Zero tolerance' gardaí seize €170,000 of drugs in planned search ahead of Electric Picnic festival

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