In times like we are living through it is important now more than ever that our police force is adequately funded and can work well within the community. As justice spokesperson I have been liaising with Minister McEntee to increase the presence of our policeforce on the streets.
Full Speech Transcript:
This conversation dovetails nicely with the previous debate regarding community development. If we are looking at how we can support communities in which people feel under siege from crime and anti-social behaviour, we need community development and community policing. In my constituency of Dublin South Central, areas such as Inchicore, Kilmainham and Bluebell have experienced high levels of anti-social behaviour and violence along the canal, on the cycle paths and towpaths. People have come to me in fear of a small number of people on the streets who are engaged in widespread anti-social behaviour and aggression, and disrupting the community. The way to tackle that, in the first instance, is via better community policing which is visible in communities on the ground. There is a move in An Garda Síochána towards small area policing which will support such front-line enforcement, which is absolutely necessary and is to be welcomed.
We must also back up that approach with community development. In this case, that involves the Garda youth diversion projects. Many of these projects are still struggling because of cuts introduced during the recession. We must look at the funding of those projects to ensure they return to the strength at which they were before the recession and have the capacity to meet new demands. One such demand should be an expansion to include those aged 18 to 21 years. While Garda youth diversion projects will do a great deal of good centre-based work, there is also a need for outreach work. The outreach work is often intensive and undermines the ability to do centre-based work, so projects are having to make a choice between these two types of work. It should not be a choice. Given that they serve different functions, it should be possible to do both.
I am conscious I am sharing time with other Deputies. I commend the work being done to ensure that gardaí are freed up to be part of the communities they are policing. This ensures they are made more welcome by the community and can engage and support community safety better.