Written answers

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Department of Justice and Equality

Garda Stations

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has received a submission from an organisation (details supplied) in relation to the proposed closure of 100 Garda stations in 2013 in rural areas; his plans to address the concerns regarding the level of policing in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57528/12]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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I received correspondence from the organisation in question on 12th December and quite separately I received an email from them on 14 December 2012. This email was also sent to a number of Deputies and other addressees at the same time. I will of course be replying directly to the correspondence in due course.

The Deputy will be aware that the Commissioner's Policing Plan for 2013, which I laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas on 5th December 2012, sets out details of the closure of 100 Garda stations throughout the country, the future opening hours of other stations in Cork and Dublin and a number of District amalgamations. It is important to remember that while some Garda stations are listed for revised opening hours from 24 hour stations, they will remain as functioning Garda stations on a 24 hour basis. The full list of these details is available in the Policing Plan which is available in the Oireachtas Library.

The Commissioner has concluded that resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the front-line if particular stations no longer had to be staffed and maintained or if the public opening hours of other stations could be reduced at off-peak times. In making that decision he has reiterated the commitment of An Garda Síochána to providing a professional and effective service to all communities, including those in rural areas. Each Divisional Officer with responsibility for a Division that will be affected by this decision has been tasked with developing a comprehensive consultation strategy together with a tailored implementation plan that will meet the particular needs of their Division.

We also need to be honest about the level of policing service that was capable of being provided from the stations that were and are to be closed. Of the 100 stations to be closed next year, 98% are only open part-time, 94% are open for 3 hours a day or less, 88% are served by 1 Garda and only 5% are served by 3 or more Garda personnel. In fact, of the 39 stations closed this year, 8 were not actually open at all. Their closure was a paper exercise which simply recognised reality.

The intention will be that at all times optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. The revised structures will continue to support the community policing philosophy of An Garda Síochána through the clustering of services at policing hubs. This centralisation of services will facilitate the introduction of an enhanced grid patrolling system that will be operational and intelligence led.  This patrol system will ensure that a high visibility and community oriented policing service continues to be delivered throughout the country.


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