Check Against Delivery
Topical Issue Debate
Tuesday, 14 November 2017.
“To urgently address the rise in rural crime.”
“To discuss the Governments approach to the issue of rural crime.”
REVISED TEXT - The need to address rural crime.
- Deputies Niamh Smyth and Carol Nolan.
A Cheann Comhairle
I would like to thank the Deputies for raising this very important issue.
At the outset, I would like assure the Deputies that An Garda Síochána carefully monitors the activities of criminal groups affecting all areas of the country and are implementing strong policing measures to disrupt and dismantle their networks. The Deputies will appreciate that it is the Garda Commissioner and his management team who are responsible for the deployment of Garda resources, including personnel, to specific areas however, I am advised that Garda management constantly monitor the distribution of resources in the light of crime trends and overall policing needs.
The Deputies will appreciate that very significant resources have been provided to An Garda Síochána, including an overtime allocation of €100 million announced in Budget 18, to support large-scale policing operations including Operation Thor. It is also worth noting that Operation Thor has now entered its ‘Winter Phase’ which will run from 29 October 2017 – 1 April 2018.
The scale of Garda activity against burglary and property crime – under Operation Thor - has led to concentrated Garda activity resulting to date in over 92,040 targeted checkpoints and 71,700 crime prevention patrols nationwide. This concentrated policing activity has produced in the region of 6,130 arrests and 6,920 charges covering a range of offences which, in addition to burglary, have included handling stolen property, possession of firearms and drugs offences.
In addition, Operation Thor has targeted mobile criminal gangs engaged in burglary and related crimes and it is encouraging to note that since the launch of the operation in November 2015, the burglary figures have shown a significant downward trend. The Deputies will be aware that the CSO official recorded crime statistics for 2016 show a decrease in burglary offences of 30% when compared to the previous twelve-month period in 2015. This reflects the success of the concerted Garda drive against crime being implemented under Operation Thor. Furthermore, Crime Prevention Officers actively engage with community groups to promote the Safer Communities Campaign and advise residents of ways to increase their personal safety and secure their property.
As part of the concerted strategy to combat burglary, the Government has made it a priority to secure the enactment of specific legislation targeting prolific burglars in the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Act 2015. These provisions are now available to Gardaí to support prosecutions arising from Operation Thor.
Furthermore, the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act which has commenced introduced the DNA database, which provides Gardaí with investigative links (’hits’) between people and unsolved crimes, including burglaries. It is anticipated that this will assist in improving detection rates for burglary over the coming years.