I wish to raise with the Taoiseach the issue of crime, as well as the position of An Garda Síochána. As the Taoiseach is aware, a major conference is being held by the Garda Representative Association, GRA, at present and a number of significant issues have emanated from it relating to manpower, equipment, resources and Garda morale. In tandem with these issues, the Central Statistics Office has confirmed that burglaries have increased by 17%, while robberies, extortion and hijackings have increased by more than one third. One of the more worrying statistics is that only one in four burglaries and only one in three thefts are actually detected, which comprises a significant and serious position.
In respect of equipment and resources, gardaí have stated the fleet has been reduced by more than 370 vehicles in the past three years, which is a reduction of more than 30%. Gardaí have stated that criminal gangs are conducting their crimes with high-powered vehicles while, to use a phrase employed, gardaí are pursuing them in the equivalent of lawnmowers. The fleet as it was has been replaced by commercial vans that are completely unsuitable for modern policing. On the manpower front, the remarks of the GRA president, John Parker, were quite worrying. He stated that gardaí are demoralised because manpower and resources are so depleted that even the investigation of crime itself is affected. He stated: "It's a PR exercise often where you go out and you record as much as you can and you try to allocate as much time as you can to the investigation of that crime." He went on to state:
The manpower is not there for a serious follow-up to crime. On previous occasions what you would do is door-to-door [inquiries], you would saturate the area. These facilities are not there now.