Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Crime Rate.

147.

asked the Minister for Justice if his attention has been drawn to the report of the Garda Commissioner in which he stated that the crime rate was on the increase; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy this situation.

I assume that the Deputy is primarily concerned with the increase of 4,784, or 18.4 per cent, in the number of indictable offences recorded by the Garda as having been committed in the year ended 30th September, 1970. as compared with the previous year, the actual figures being 30,756 and 25,972 respectively.

It is worth bearing in mind that the bulk of the overall increase is due to increases in a few particular types of crime. Burglaries increased by 139, housebreakings by 1,510, larcenies from unattended vehicles by 1,853 and larcenies, not otherwise defined, of property of less than £50 in value by 703. On the other hand, offences against the person actually declined, from 1,170 to 1,142.

The crime situation continues to have my close attention. I have arranged for the recruitment of an extra 400 gardaí over and above the replacement of normal wastage, 200 of them this year and the balance next year. Some of this year's 200 have already completed their training and are on duty. All of the rest of them are due to have completed their training by January. Female clerical assistants are being recruited in order to relieve gardaí of routine office work and to enable them to concentrate on their primary task of preventing and detecting crime. Over 60 have already taken up duty and the immediate target is the recruitment of 150. The employment of traffic wardens to deal with parking restrictions is being extended and this also releases gardaí for other work. The garda transport fleet is being increased steadily and the estimate for the purchase of vehicles in the present year is £221,000, as compared with the provision of £116,500 last year. A new garda communications system is being planned for Dublin as is a national radio network and these are being treated as matters of great urgency.

The gardaí are utilising their resources in an increasingly flexible manner. The Garda Research and Planning Unit is set up in order to ensure that there will be an active continuing review designed to secure the most efficient use of personnel and equipment. In general the measures adopted must remain confidential, but I might instance the setting up of a garda task force in Dublin consisting of a superintendent and 26 other members, which has already proved to be very successful. It is hoped to have similar units in some other areas in due course.

I should like to ask for the help of the general public in making things harder for the criminal. Crimes against property are the most frequent ones and a greater degree of care on the part of property owners would, I have no doubt, be reflected in a smaller incidence of larcenies and housebreakings. It is quite clear, for example, that to leave property exposed to view in an unattended vehicle is to issue an open invitation to the sneak thief and this is underlined by the fact that 18 per cent of all the indictable offences committed last year were larcenies from unattended vehicles.

148.

asked the Minister for Justice the number of crimes committed and convictions secured in each of the years from 1961 to 1971 inclusive.

The particulars sought for the years 1961 to 1970 inclusive are contained in the annual Reports of the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána on Crime, copies of which are available in the Library.

The report for the year ended 30th September, 1971, is in course of preparation.