Thursday, 13 December 2012

Questions (129)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl


129. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way he intends to address the policing needs of the 100 communities in which he proposes to close local Garda stations; the way the Garda Commissioner intends to provide policing cover in these areas following the relocation of locally based Gardaí to stations in larger urban centres; if the relocated Gardaí will continue to police their former communities as usual or if they will be absorbed into the provision of service at their new location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56032/12]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The stations selected for closure are those which are in areas that, in the professional opinion of the Garda Commissioner, could be better served by having Gardaí patrolling the areas rather than being confined to a specific premises. The Garda National Model of Community Policing plays a key part in responding to crime by taking into account and responding to local conditions and needs. In this regard the Gardaí continue to work closely with all communities to enhance community safety through a wide range of local fora such as Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch, as well as more formal structures such as Joint Policing Committees.

Details of the closures are set out in the Policing Plan have for 2013 which is available in the Oireachtas library. The Plan also provides details of the alternative policing arrangements for the areas in question. The Commissioner has indicated that wherever possible and subject to operational requirements, Gardai attached to a station which is scheduled for closure will be assigned within the local District.

We also need to be honest about the level of policing service that was capable of being provided from the stations that were and are to be closed. Of the 100 stations to be closed next year, 98% are only open part-time, 94% are open for 3 hours a day or less, 88% are served by 1 Garda and only 5% are served by 3 or more Garda personnel. In fact, of the 39 stations closed this year, 8 were not actually open at all. Their closure was a paper exercise which simply recognised reality.

The implementation of the reduction in the number of Garda stations and Districts will take place in full consultation with the local communities and staffing interests. Local Garda management will shortly commence the process of engaging with these communities through the Joint Policing Committees and other fora to advise them of the revised policing arrangements for the localities in question. The objective will be to ensure that the best possible policing service will be provided at all times.