Community policing garda numbers at Swords Garda Station have not kept pace with a 17,000 or 46% increase in the population of the town over the past decade, a local councillor has claimed.
According to Cllr Paul Mulville (SD), figures released by the Department of Justice reveal that while the population of Swords rose from 36,900 to 54,200 (est.) between 2011 and now, community policing numbers increased by only one, from eight to nine.
According to the figures released following a Dáil question tabled for Cllr Mulville by Róisín Shortall TD, there were seven Gardaí and one Sergeant in the Swords Community Policing Unit in December 2011.
The latest figures available reveal that there are now eight Gardaí with one sergeant in the Swords Community Policing unit.
In the intervening years, the numbers hit a high in 2012 of 14 - including two Sergeants - but have been stable at either 9 or 10 since 2015.
Swords Garda station covers Swords, Donabate and Portrane. Donabate has also seen an increase in population from 2011 to now from 6,778 to 8,187, an increase of 20%.
“The figures are a stark reminder of a lack of investment by the Government in our area,” said Cllr Paul Mulville.
“This is clearly one of the fastest growing regions of the country and yet Garda resources have not kept pace with that growth."
“We’re not talking about a lot of new Gardaí here - a 46% increase in the population of Swords could have been matched by a similar increase in the community policing unit numbers, which amounts to only four new Gardaí."
Cllr Mulville said it was “greatly concerning” that with the population of Swords expected to rise another 11% by 2029, and Donabate to see an estimated population increase of 3,000 people, “we could be left further behind.”
He said: “We believe that strengthened and diverse community policing, reflecting the local population make-up, is vital not only to ensure a visible Garda presence on the beat in our neighbourhoods, but that it is viewed as a welcome and reassuring presence.
"Community policing must be placed at the centre of community building and engagement, in particular given the diverse & young population of Fingal."