Tuesday, 17 May 2005
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Question 262: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the crime statistics for Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, for 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004; if he will consider increasing the number of gardaí in the area; and if he will also consider establishing a full-time Garda station in the area. [15923/05]
As regards crime figures, the Deputy will be aware that on becoming Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I arranged for the publication of headline crime statistics on a quarterly basis to improve the quality of information available to the public. While caution should be exercised in interpreting levels of crime between quarters, I am pleased to note that during my term of office as Minister, the quarterly crime rate has decreased from 6.7 per 1,000 population to six per 1,000 over the longer period of 11 quarters for which figures are available. This trend is reflected throughout most Garda districts in the country.
In interpreting these figures, account must also be taken of the introduction of the new PULSE computer system by the Garda Síochána in 1999, which led to more complete and comprehensive recording of crimes reported than was previously the case. The Deputy will also wish to be aware that, taking into account the significant increase in our population since 1995, the headline crime rate has fallen from 29 per 1,000 population in 1995 to 25 per 1,000 population in 2004.
The following tables show the headline offences for the years 2000 to 2004, inclusive, for the Carlow Garda district which covers the Leighlinbridge area.
The number of Garda personnel assigned to each station, together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy, are continually monitored and reviewed. Such monitoring ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the general public. In this regard, in addition to the specific resources available to stations, there has also been a considerable increase since 1997 in the number of gardaí serving in national units. Specialist Garda units such as the Garda national drug unit, the national bureau of criminal investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Garda bureau of fraud investigation operating under the assistant commissioner in charge of national support services, have enabled the Garda Síochána to tackle serious crime effectively. These specialist units work closely with gardaí operating at district and divisional level.
As regards Garda resources generally, I am pleased that the Government has approved my proposal to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members on a phased basis, in line with the programme for Government commitment in this regard. This is a key commitment in the programme for Government and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.
The Garda Commissioner will now draw up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources. Clearly, the additional resources will be targeted at the areas of greatest need, as is envisaged in the programme for Government. The programme identifies in particular areas with a significant drugs problem and a large number of public order offences, but it will be possible to address other priorities as well, such as the need to increase very significantly the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties as part of the new Garda traffic corps. I have already promised that the additional gardaí will not be put on administrative duties. They will be put directly into frontline, operational, high-visibility policing. They will have a real impact.
|Headline Offences Recorded and Detected for Carlow Garda District from 2000 to 2004*|
|*Statistics for 2004 are provisional-operational and liable to change.|