Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Community Safety and Investment: Motion [Private Members]


10:30 am

Photo of Rebecca MoynihanRebecca Moynihan (Labour) | Oireachtas source

I move:

That Seanad Éireann: acknowledges that: - An Garda Síochána play a vital role in ensuring our communities are safe, law and order is upheld, and community well-being is maintained;

- there is a crisis of morale within An Garda Síochána resulting in a significant number of Gardaí leaving the service;

- there are real and growing concerns about safety in Dublin city centre across all demographics, gender, sexuality and ethnicity, with those from certain minority backgrounds feeling particularly threatened;

- Ireland’s urban centres, such as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, are home to diverse and culturally rich communities; recognises that: - while a sufficient Garda presence is crucial to ensure public safety, the key to addressing community safety and cohesion is the provision of public services, local investment, and access to sports and recreational facilities; building safe sustainable towns and cities is important to enable communities to thrive, maintain social cohesion and prevent anti-social behaviour; notes that: - the Community Policing model is a partnership-based, proactive, problem-solving style of policing, focused on community engagement, crime prevention and law enforcement;

- there are currently less community Gardaí active than there was a decade ago;

- the total strength of An Garda Síochána fell last year from 14,125 to 13,998, at one point reaching the lowest level in 5 years;

- in 2023, 164 Gardaí resigned from the service compared with 26 a decade ago and representing a 50% increase on the previous year, a six-fold increase on 2016;

- there have been a number of industrial relations issues within An Garda Síochána in the last number of months, including threats of industrial action and an inability to fill senior roles in the organisation;

- a Garda Representative Association survey of Gardaí who have left the force indicated that there is a worrying culture of bullying, stress and mental burnout within the organisation;

- the Government has committed to achieving an overall Garda strength of 15,000 by the end of 2024; further notes that: - the report of the Joint Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth entitled ‘The Future of Youth Work’ states that ‘young people are facing multiple crises in relation to poverty, intergenerational trauma, the cost-of-living crisis, homelessness and lack of access to mental health supports’;

- there is a clear link between deprivation levels and anti-social behaviour; and that investment in prevention and restorative justice shows better outcomes than traditional policing responses;

- there is a lack of community resources, such as green spaces, sports facilities and recreation and youth centres, in our urban centres;

- there are currently 106 Youth Diversion Programmes nationwide, whose aim it is to divert young people away from the criminal justice system and from committing further crimes, and they are co-funded by the State and the European Social Fund;

- there are clear socio-economic background trends in those participating in Youth Diversion Programmes, with those from disadvantaged backgrounds more likely to be enrolled in a programme;

- the Department of Justice evaluation of the Youth Diversion Programme system reported that the programmes have had some positive impact on reducing crime; calls on the Government to: - properly resource community safety partnerships to ensure that the potential and intent behind these new partnerships can be realised;

- increase funding for the continued expansion of Youth Diversion Programmes and associated services;

- significantly increase the number of Juvenile Liaison Officers to support young people engaging with Youth Diversion Programmes;

- introduce a targeted community investment fund for at-risk areas to develop youth and recreation centres, sports facilities and other community-led initiatives;

- significantly increase the recruitment of community focused Gardaí who are tasked with building relationships in local communities;

- re-establish small policing areas and focus Garda responsibility accordingly.

If we can share time, I will take seven minutes, five and four.


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