Report: More Garda patrols and better rural resources needed

Rural Ireland needs additional policing with better resourcing designed to reduce crime and raise confidence in An Garda Síochána, according to a new justice report.

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality made the findings in a report published today (Thursday, March 28).

The report on Community Policing and Rural Crime makes a total of 20 recommendations, based on community policing and rural issues.

It summarises the committee’s findings from its meetings with key stakeholders, including police commanders from both sides of the border, international and local policing reform advocates, and community and farming leaders from across Ireland, according to the rapporteurs.

The report’s recommendations to reduce rural crime include:
  • Gardaí should boost rural patrolling and hold regular meetings in community centres to counteract social isolation in communities where Garda stations have closed;
  • Communities should install CCTV monitoring with the assistance of more advance funding and streamlined grant applications. Legislation could clarify the role of state agencies in oversight of CCTV schemes and data management;
  • Combatting cross-border crime will require more interagency co-operation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI, customs authorities, and the relevant government departments on both sides of the border;
  • Muintir na Tíre should receive renewed funding for its Community Alert and Text Alert schemes aimed at easing rural isolation and the fear of crime;
  • The IFA-operated Theftstop programme, which puts unique ID marks on property, should be expanded to include CESAR scanning equipment for police to track and locate stolen property across Europe;
  • Gardaí should use social media more effectively to drive engagement with isolated communities.

Other recommendations given to promote community policing include the proposal that rural areas that lost Garda stations and a regular police presence during the financial crisis should have vacant positions filled and receive priority for new resources.

This includes by redeploying Gardaí from administrative posts to front-line district roles.

In addition, it is advised that Gardaí should place renewed emphasis on early intervention, risk assessment and crime prevention aimed at young people in cooperation with Garda Youth Diversion Projects.

Also, officers need better training and 24/7 specialist support for managing people with mental health issues who are self-harming or harming others, the report details.

“The committee strongly believes that the philosophy of community policing should underpin policing practice in Ireland,” said Justice Committee chairman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.