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Council rules out security guards

A CALL to use private security to police Dublin City Council flat complexes has been rejected by the local authority.

The council said the move would “go against all community development aspirations” and be a retrograde step.

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn raised the issue, saying criminal activity and antisocial behaviour are on the increase in social housing complexes.

“Many of our tenants and customers feel fearful, threatened and helpless in the face of this growing culture of disregard,” Mr Flynn said.

Gardai are “stretched to the limits” and, while they do respond, it is “often not a priority” given the demands on their resources.

Mr Flynn said the council has “a proven track record with well-known and respected security firms”.

“It is perhaps time now to engage these services in support of the many communities in social housing settings that are besieged,” he added.

However, the council ruled out the idea. It said its staff already liaise with the local residents and gardai to try to tackle the problems.

“All of these work to address anti-social activity but, equally importantly, to build up community networks,” the local authority said.

“The use of private security would appear to go against all community development aspirations whereby local communities work together to create a safe environment,” the council added.

This is before the cost of providing security is considered, at a time when “we are prioritising expenditure on the provision of city council services to our tenants”.

The local authority said: “To suggest that local communities need to have private security to ensure that they function would appear to be a retrograde step at a time when the creation of community capacity is so important.”

The council does not have information on other jurisdictions where private security is used at public housing complexes, it added.

City chiefs spend significant sums on private security, but usually to protect vacant sites or buildings.

It has splashed out hundreds of thousands of euro on the evacuated Priory Hall apartment complex in Donaghmede.

Security personnel guarded the blocks 24-hours-a-day at a cost of more than €60,000 a month.

Between October 17 , 2011 and August 31, 2012, the sums were paid to G4S Secure Solutions (Ire) Ltd.

The money was spent in an effort to prevent break-ins at the apartments, which residents had to leave over fire safety concerns.