Last week Patrick Costello TD spoke on a bill relating to reform of An Garda Síochána. One aspect raised was Community Guards and the need to fund them in Dublin. While their number increases nationally, in Dublin we are still down one third of the peak numbers in 2009.
Full transcript of speech:
Like previous speakers, I agree that this is a welcome Bill in terms of its reform of Garda structures. Many Members have spoken about the lack of community gardaí and the lack of gardaí on the ground in general. The Dublin metropolitan region has made a lot of strides over the years towards small-area policing. This needs proper resources and more community gardaí. According to the figures from the Department of Justice, the number of community gardaí in Dublin was at a high of 510 in 2009. The figure currently stands at 332. While in recent years there has been a rise in the total number of community gardaí across the country, the number in Dublin has remained stagnant or is declining. We are setting up an ambition for An Garda Síochána to be more community focused. Many Members have spoken about the benefits of that, which we all understand, but we are not necessarily giving gardaí the resources they need.
Many people in my constituency, Dublin South-Central, have contacted me to complain about crime and antisocial behaviour. Much of it is harassment of people passing and low-level attacks along the canal, some of which have been horrific. The perpetrators are very young and mobile. They move around quickly and gardaí are not necessarily able to respond. We definitely need more gardaí, but as well as a Garda solution, we also need to look at some of the youth work and community-building exercises. Now is the time to talk about extending the age of people referred to Garda youth diversion projects from 18 years to 24. The 18 to 24 cohort comprises 11% of the population, but is responsible for 21% of committals. It would certainly help if we were to extend the scope of Garda youth diversion projects.