Sunday 25 August 2019

'This is a disaster' - Ban on Dublin garda overtime due to 'exhausted budget'

Stock picture
Stock picture

Ken Foy

All garda overtime for regular police operations in Dublin has been abolished because the garda budget for 2017 has been exhausted.

The shocking revelation was made yesterday in a letter by the capital’s most senior officer Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy to all chief superintendents in the gardai’s Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR).

In a shock development, one garda division in the capital is considering decommissioning its burglary response units and ordering the unit’s members to work from stations.

Sources say the overtime ban will have a “major impact” on frontline policing in the next five weeks.

In one garda division in the capital, garda management have been instructed to prioritise duties such as answering phones and man static posts while detectives are being ordered to “perform outdoor duty only.”

Sources revealed tonight that rank-and-file gardai have been left in a state of “complete shock” over the development.

An excerpt from the notice issued to chief superintendent
An excerpt from the notice issued to chief superintendent

A GRA source told the Independent.ie that one city centre station needs around half a dozen officers working overtime on a daily basis for the station “just to properly function” because of the lack of gardai.

“Regular policing in this city cannot be done without overtime because we simply don’t have the numbers,” the GRA source said.

“For overtime to be abolished in the run-up to Christmas is a really bad idea. This is a very busy time for crime with a traditional major increase in thefts and burglaries.

“At this time of year with all the alcohol use and misuse there is also a big increase in assaults, domestic rows and other crimes associated with the party season. This is a disaster,” the GRA source warned.

Another garda expressed grave concerns that during such a busy period in the city centre for late night pubs and clubs, all overtime for public order units had been cut.

The ban on overtime will also have a serious effect on the investigation into serious crime investigations, according to sources.

It is expected that a number of planned searches, raids and other intelligence led operations will now need to be cancelled until the next year because overtime has been abolished.

“Of course this has an impact on every aspect of policing within Dublin up to and including the investigation of murders,” a senior source said.

The only exception to the overtime ban is for gardai involved in Operation Hybrid and Operation C-Port.

Operation Hybrid is an initiative designed to provide an armed response to organised crime in the capital including armed checkpoints while C-Port is in place to beef up security at Dublin Port and to tackle drugs and other illicit substances being smuggled here.

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell said it's vital that gardai are adequately paid for their work.

The Dublin Fingal TD said: "Front line Gardaí do work of the utmost importance in terms of ensuring our that local communities are secure and that people feel safe in their own homes.

"This is of particular importance over the festive period when road safety campaigns, for example, are vital.

"The demands of the work of the men and women of An Garda Síochána are often dependent on the circumstances of any given day. As such, overtime can be required at short notice.

"To curtail overtime could create additional challenges in terms of front line policing duties.

"As a former member of the Oireachtas Justice Committee, I believe we must ensure the people who work so hard to keep us safe must be paid for the work they do."

Deputy Farrell called on the issue to be addressed promptly.

He said: "Action must be taken urgently to address this issue regarding overtime for Gardaí and we must ensure our front line Gardaí have the support and resources they both require and deserve."

When contacted by the Irish Independent, Garda HQ issued a statement which said: “ An Garda Síochána is provided with an annual budget, which is reviewed on a continual basis to ensure we are working within that budget.”

Last month, it emerged that spending on garda overtime this year was then 50pc over budget.

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