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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 5 Oct 2000

Vol. 523 No. 3

Written Answers. - Road Traffic Offences.

Eamon Gilmore


61 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he will take to deal with the problem of joyriding which is causing such problems in so many urban areas; his views on whether the powers available to the gardaí to deal with this are adequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20162/00]

I am very aware of the damage done to local communities by the scourge of so called joyriding. I have been assured by the Garda authorities that they are satisfied that the provisions of the Road Traffic Acts, 1961-1993, as enforced by them, are adequate to deal with situations where persons use or take possession of mechanically propelled vehicles without the consent of the owner.

I am determined to see that the Garda have all the resources they need to effectively tackle joyriding. As of the end of September, Garda strength stood at 11,600 and I am well on target to meet the Government's target of 12,000 by 2002. The Garda fleet has also increased substantially.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that they continually monitor trends in unauthorised takings with a view to identifying and targeting both persistent offenders and areas prone to such activities. Some of the local responses to joyriding include Operation Steering Wheel which was developed by the Garda authorities to deal specifically with the problem of joyriding in Coolock. The operation is ongoing and comprises uniform, foot and mobile patrols targeting specific locations on a nightly basis. A special resource unit comprising one sergeant and eight gardaí was established to specifically target incidents of joyriding in west Tallaght. The autocrime diversion project, under the auspices of the probation and welfare services, plays a role in addressing the problem in Cork. Each Garda division also has a traffic unit who outside of peak traffic hours target incidents of joyriding.
Since taking office, I have significantly expanded the number of Garda youth diversion projects, with a view to diverting juveniles away from this type of crime. As the Deputy will be aware, the Government has allocated £16 million over the life of the national development plan to establish further projects throughout the country. These projects involve not only the gardaí but also local community groups and other agencies. I am also informed that juvenile liaison officers and community gardaí avail of every opportunity during the course of their work, particularly in implementing the schools programme to educate young people to the dangers posed by joyriding. The gardaí are also involved in the south Dublin inter-agency steering group on joyriding and anti-social activity, and also in a task force to address the problem in the Coolock area.
Other initiatives the garda are promoting to deal with joyriding include the crime prevention through environmental design concept, which involves a Garda crime prevention officer liaising with local authorities, town planners and communities at the development stage of new estates and parks. This can involve effecting physical changes such as barriers and speed ramps to reduce access to areas frequented by youths engaged in these activities.
As the Deputy will appreciate, a wide range of measures are being deployed by the Garda Síochána to combat the problem of joyriding and to discharge its role in maintaining law and order. I am further assured that the Garda have in the past and will continue to be proactive in dealing with such problems both by way of direct action through detection and prevention through the numerous diversion and referral schemes.
Question No. 62 taken with Question No. 17.