Garda station plans in doubt due to lack of funding

Plans to build new garda stations and refurbish existing ones are being “significantly” affected because of a shortage of funding, the garda commissioner has warned.

Dónall O Cualáin also said that the overtime budget was almost €5m in the red — because of policing operations — and that “corrective measures” were going to have to be taken.

The acting commissioner’s most recent monthly report also shows that violent property crime is up 25% in the year to date — driven by robbery from the person and robbery of bank/post office in Dublin.

The commissioner’s April report, just published, said: “The budgetary constraints in 2018 will significantly impact the ability of Garda Estate Management to deliver on the Capital Building Programme and the Modernisation and Renewal Programme.

It said that key elements of the 2016-2021 building programme included: new garda stations; major refurbishment of stations and facilities (including for meeting victims of crime); essential remedial works, and upgrading of cells.

It said the Office of Public Works was conducting a final review of works to the cells at Longford Garda Station, completing contracts for Athlone Station, and issuing a tender for Donegal Town station.

It said seven stations were undergoing cell refurbishment (79 already have completed) and 25 were at planning stage.

The commissioner’s report, which is submitted to the Policing Authority, said the organisation was €7.5m above its budget, partly driven by operational demands, resulting in a “higher overtime expenditure”.

It said that €27.5m had been spent on overtime to date, which is €4.9m in excess of its profiled budget. A further €600,000 has been spent on overtime at the Garda College.

It said the overspend has been driven by a number of “significant events” which require extra policing resources in addition to rostered staff.

The report added: “Budget holders are actively implementing a range of corrective measures to ensure that expenditure is brought within profile over the coming months.”

It said while reported property crime was down 2% nationally in year-to-date comparisons, violent property crime had jumped 25%.

Robbery from the person and robbery of an establishment in the Dublin Region are driving this trend,” it said.

It said reported crimes against the person, such as assaults, are up 2%, but sexual offences were down 18%.

It said the CSO had resumed publication of crime statistics “under reservation”.

The report said 61 garda positions had been civilianised so far, including 49 at garda rank. The three Cork divisions have civilianised the most, with 11 positions.

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