I appreciate the opportunity to raise this important issue and the Ceann Comhairle's decision to select it. I thank the Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Deputy James Browne, for staying so late on a Thursday. As the Minister of State will be aware, in recent days, we have seen an increased amount of footage online and our offices are receiving an increase in reports showing a worrying rise in criminal activity, especially in Dublin city centre. We need to respond to this with a high-visibility policing presence, not just in the our capital city but throughout the country. I have been calling for this for months and I have had wonderful interaction on it with the Minister of State, the Minister for Justice, Deputy Humphreys, and previously, the Minister, Deputy McEntee. I am not calling for this for the sake of it but because it is working in the parts of the country adopting it.
I attended a meeting of the joint policing committee in my area, which is covered by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, the other week. The statistics released by the chief superintendent are telling. Where the level of patrolling in public places has increased, burglaries have reduced by 53% compared with last year, theft is down 23%, robberies have declined by 37% and bike and vehicle theft by 32% and 48%, respectively. Incidents involving antisocial behaviour and assaults have also declined, as have other crimes. The mountain bike unit has also been strengthened with eight additional gardaí, which is very important, especially in the mountainous region and parklands, given that people have been spending much more time in open spaces in recent months.
If we are to prevent scenes such as those circulating on social media and the reports coming into our offices, we need gardaí on our streets. It is what gardaí want to do. We need administrative civilian staff hired to allow our gardaí to get out on the street and provide peace of mind. Before this debate, I took a walk from Kildare Street to Parnell Square via the main thoroughfare of our capital city, O'Connell Street, during which I saw one member of An Garda Síochána on patrol. That is simply not good enough. It does not provide a sense of security or well-being. We have to ensure the new rostering arrangements that worked so well are put in place and the demands of the public and gardaí are met by management. We must have a high-level, high-visibility policing presence across our main thoroughfares. That will act as a deterrent and see early intervention in crimes.
We are seeing an undoubted, well-documented increase in the number of attacks on people from racial minorities. We have seen homophobic attacks and attacks on women. We all listened intently and with deep sadness to the details of a chilling trial in the United Kingdom, which led to Sarah Everard's murderer being put in prison for the rest of his life, and rightly so. That is why we look to An Garda Síochána to provide a sense of security. I call for the Minister of State to work with the Garda Commissioner and others to ensure we have a strong Garda presence on our streets and crack down as we reopen our society and economy in order that people - men, women and children - can feel safe walking the streets, day or night.