Saturday 24 March 2018

Tough jail terms and bail rules in new burglary clampdown

Frances Fitzgerald
Frances Fitzgerald
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Burglars will face tougher sentences for repeat offences and judges will get strengthened powers to refuse bail, under new legislation being proposed by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Minister Fitzgerald will bring the plan aimed at cracking down on the worrying number of burglaries on family homes before Cabinet today.

It is understood this will include the introduction of new laws which will see burglars handed down consecutive sentences at District Court level for repeat offences.

The minister also hopes to strengthen the power of judges to refuse bail and impose longer sentences for criminals who repeatedly come before the courts for break-ins.

The tough new laws will be welcomed by thousands of families who have been victims of raids on their homes.

Ms Fitzgerald recently met with senior gardaí to discuss the force's response to the wave of break-ins across the country.

"The minister is aware of ongoing concern about burglaries particularly in the Dublin region," a source said.

Department of Justice officials recently completed a review of the justice system's response to burglaries, which focused on break-ins carried out by repeat offenders.

Despite a small drop in burglary figures last year, there are still more than 26,000 home raids annually across the country - with Dublin worst affected.

Last December, the Irish Independent revealed there was a 15pc rise in home raids in the Dublin Metropolitan Area despite the nationwide drop in burglaries. There was a dramatic spike in break-ins during the run up to Christmas last year with 54 homes targeted a day.

The most recent figures supplied by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show there was 26,430 burglaries and related offences in the 12 months up until the middle of last year.

Figures are not available for this year or the second half of 2014 due to an ongoing review of crime statistics supplied to the CSO by gardaí following a highly critical report by the Garda Inspectorate.

The Inspectorate found gardaí were failing to properly record crimes on its internal database and some incidents were been incorrectly filed on the Garda PULSE System.

Under Operation Fiacla, gardaí have arrested more than 12,000 burglary suspects and 7,000 people have been charged since 2012. Operation Acer and Operation Creeper target criminal gangs carrying out raids on homes in Dublin.

At the recent Fine Gael conference, Ms Fitzgerald first announced her plans to introduce a Burglary Response Unit to tackle home break-ins.

"The sense of invasion, the sadness when what is taken has family or sentimental value, the fear - this cannot go on. That's why we have demanded a new garda anti-crime strategy with a particular focus on tackling burglaries," she said.

Irish Independent

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