Over 400 garda attacks in last 3 years with some members out of work for six months following assaults

Over 400 garda attacks in last 3 years with some members out of work for six months following assaults

More than 400 assaults on gardaí have occurred in two and a half years, forcing members of the force out of work for six months or more.

However, representatives of rank and file gardaí say the reality is even worse as a significant number of incidents go unreported.

Figures provided to the Irish Examiner under a freedom of information request show there have already been 89 official reports of assault between January and July of this year.

Last year, there were 151 and, in 2017, there was 190.

About 24 incidents resulted in gardaí taking six months or longer off work, with 33 incidents resulting in three to six months off.

There were also 131 incidents which resulted in up to three days off.

The injuries sustained by gardaí include 46 closed fractures and two open fractures, where the bones break the skin. There were also three head injuries and three internal injuries.

The most common injuries are classed under ‘bruising, grazes, and bites’, which accounted for 168 of the 430 injuries reported since 2017.

There were 124 sprains or strains and 13 dislocations in that time, too.

The data released in the request refers to injuries which resulted in members of the force taking time off work.

It does not include minor injuries which do not result in gardaí taking sick days.

Over the two-and-a-half-year period covered in the request, gardaí working in the Dublin Metropolitan Region divisions reported more incidents than those in any other part of the country.

The six divisions here saw 125 incidents.

The three Cork divisions, city, north and west, had a combined total of 41 incidents, 20 of which were in the city division.

Outside these, Co Tipperary saw the largest number of incidents at 36.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) claims the reality is actually far worse and that the figures recorded only take into account those reported specifically to the health and safety section of An Garda Síochána.

A GRA spokesperson said the reporting of figures is inconsistent around the country.

GRA vice president Frank Thornton said current reporting structures are unreliable, as they only factor in incidents that result in time off work and cause injury.

“But there are many other assaults that go unreported, such as spitting and assault causing minor injuries,” he said.

“Serious threats to gardaí are not regarded as assault when in fact they should be.

“Gardaí are not minded to report assaults because they may also be asked to investigate the matter themselves or interview the person who assaulted them as part of an investigation led by a colleague.

“The GRA reiterates that assaults on gardaí should not be considered part of the job and should be treated in exactly the same way as an assault on a member of the public with prosecutions if required.

“The families of gardaí have every right to expect their loved ones to come home from work in the same condition as they left.”

Previously, the GRA has campaigned for victimisation or harassment of gardaí and other emergency response personnel to be treated as a special category of crime.

It said that the prominence of social media has led to a rise in cyberstalking and other forms of harassment.

It said failing to treat these incidents as serious crimes undermines Garda authority and threatens the safety of members of the force.

The union also said the services available to gardaí varied depending on where they are stationed. Counselling services are available, but the GRA said that the services were “patchy”.

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