On 20 December 2018, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) published the latest annualised crime statistics which are for Q3 2018. While I am pleased that, nationally, burglary and theft-related offences were down, I am concerned that offences relating to robbery increased over the 12-month period to the end of Q3 2018, when compared to the end of Q3 2017. This trend must be tackled comprehensively, and the focus on the recruitment of new Gardaí and increased resourcing of An Garda Síochána reflect this Government’s commitment to support Gardaí in the fight against crime.
In relation to Cork City specifically, the most recent CSO figures available are for Q3 2018, which indicate a 6.5% reduction in incidents of burglary, when compared with Q3 2017. Furthermore, incidents of theft of a vehicle and incidents of theft from the person are down 10.5% and 11% respectively when the figures for Q3 2018 and Q3 2017 are compared.
Togher and Anglesea Street Districts form parts of the Cork City Division. I am informed by the Commissioner that on 31 December 2018, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the strength of the Cork City Division was 721, up from 644 as recently as 2016, and greater than at any time previously. There are also 39 Garda Reserves and 77 civilians attached to the Division.
Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,400 Garda recruits have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, including 62 to the Cork City Division.
As the Deputy will be aware, the manner in which Garda resources are deployed is solely a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team and I, as Minister, have no direct role in this regard. To ensure that optimum use is made of resources, policing plans are put in place by Divisional Officers which address the particular needs of each Division including taking into account of seasonal factors which can have a bearing.
One such initiative is the Lock up Light Up campaign, which is part of Operation Thor and encourages homeowners to protect their homes over the winter months, when burglaries traditionally tend to rise. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that intense Garda activity under Operation Thor has, as of January 2019, seen over 177,000 targeted checkpoints and more than 270,000 crime prevention patrols carried out nationwide.
This concentrated policing activity has produced in the region of 9,300 arrests and 10,600 charges covering a range of offences which, in addition to burglary, have included handling stolen property, possession of firearms and drugs offences. An Garda Síochána will continue to bring pressure on the gangs and individuals responsible for these type of offences.
Undoubtedly, the ongoing recruitment process will support all Garda activities and enhance visibility within our communities and will enable the Commissioner to provide additional resources across every Garda Division, including the Cork Division, as new Garda recruits continue to come on stream.
Finally, I believe it is absolutely vital that, as elected officials, we continue to encourage all citizens to report all instances of criminality to An Garda Síochána. Only then can the crime be properly investigated by Gardaí. Furthermore, these reports will allow the Garda authorities to identify any new or emerging crime trends affecting a particular community and, where necessary, allocate Garda resources in order to tackle these developments.