Laws to target burglar gangs

Judges will be obliged under new laws to hand down consecutive sentences in multiple burglary cases and be allowed to refuse bail in certain situations.

The laws come as figures show a very high rate of repeat offending among burglars on release from jail — with some eight out of 10 reoffending.

The bill comes just a week after John O’Donoghue, aged 62, died after he encountered intruders at his home in Doon, Co Limerick.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the new laws are aimed at a core group of gangs, responsible for the bulk of break-ins.

She said Garda research shows that 25% of criminals are behind 75% of burglaries.

The most recent crime figures show an 8% increase in the number of burglaries nationally in the year ending March 2015.

The Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Bill 2015 was published yesterday and will be debated in the Oireachtas.

Ms Fitzgerald said she hoped the bill would be passed by the Dáil and the Seanad “as early as possible”.

She added:

“Burglary of a person’s home is a heinous and traumatic crime. A large proportion of domestic burglaries are committed by serial offenders.”

She said the research by the Garda Síochána Analysis Service indicated that 75% of burglaries are committed by a quarter of all burglars. The Irish Prison Recidivism Study found a re-offending rate of 79.5% among people imprisoned for burglary, compared to an overall figure of 62%.

“Targeting this cohort of repeat offenders has the potential to significantly reduce the number of burglaries being committed,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

She said she €700,000 was being allocated to gardaí for the purchase of “specialist vehicles” to tackling highly-mobile criminal gangs.


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