'The support of communities is crucial if gardaí are to police effectively'
An Garda Síochána's head of communication has warned that gardaí will not be able to do their jobs properly if the force loses the public's confidence.
Speaking at a public relations conference in Dublin yesterday, Andrew McLindon said gardaí needed the support of communities if they were to be able to "police effectively".
"If you start losing public confidence, you lose the ability to police correctly," Mr McLindon added.
The force's most senior media adviser was the keynote speaker at the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) annual conference.
As part of his presentation, Mr McLindon outlined An Garda Síochána's media strategy in the wake of the worst burglary epidemic to hit the country two years ago.
He said the wave of break-ins across rural Ireland had "undermined confidence" in gardaí.
Mr McLindon, who previously won a PRII award for the force's social media output, said it was the force's responsibility to demonstrate to the public that gardaí were "alive to their concerns".
He said the media had been invited to see how Operation Thor, which was set up to target repeat burglars, operated effectively and that this was reflected in the positive media coverage of the force's work.
He said people's perception of crime in their local area as a 'serious' or 'very serious' problem dropped from 33pc in 2015 to 25pc in 2016 following a media campaign. He also highlighted the success of the Garda Traffic Unit's Twitter account, which won praise for its use of humour.