The Cork City joint policing committee (JPC) was told this week that the new recruits will allow for the restoration of two Garda units in the Douglas area — boosting cover from three to five units.
It has allowed for the restoration of a full-time drugs unit in the Togher Garda district, and will also ease pressure on Garda resources which were often being drawn from Carrigaline to respond to calls in the Douglas and Togher areas.
However, Garda numbers in Mayfield have decreased from 51 to 42 in the last 12 months, the committee was told.
It led to cross-party calls for more frontline gardaí and for a beefing up of community policing numbers, which collapsed by some 40% during the recession.
The JPC was told there has been a 24% rise in reported property crime in the first quarter of the year, compared to the same period last year, with a 67% increase in car or vehicle thefts.
While crimes against the person are down 22%, reported incidents of criminal damage and public order are down 15%, and drugs offences are down 15%, weapons offences are up 36%, with possession of an offensive weapon (not a firearm) up 40% — from 20 incidents to 28.
Details also emerged yesterday of gang-related intimidation in the Wilton area with reports of groups of youths terrorising a shop owner off the Sarsfield Rd.
Figures released to Sinn Féin’s justice spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, who is based in the Togher and Wilton areas on the city’s southside, show that garda levels in many southside stations are still at 2010 levels.
The number of gardaí based in:
- Douglas Garda Station fell from 27 in 2010 to 20 as of January 1;
- Passage West decreased from four to two;
- Bishopstown: 22 to 20;
- Togher: 60 to 57;
- Carrigaline: 21 to 19;
- Blackrock: 30 to 23;
- Crosshaven: three to two.
Anglesea St station, however, has seen its figures increase from 275 gardaí in 2010 to 295, the figures show.
Mr Ó Laoghaire accepted that new recruits are graduating from Templemore, but said they are just replacing staff which have been lost.
“So many stations are still under enormous pressure, and stations are running to stand still,” he said.
“It is also quite extraordinary that the numbers in Mayfield Garda Station have reduced from 51 to 42 in the last 12 months.
“We need frontline gardaí out there on the streets, solving, and equally importantly, preventing crime.”
Workers Party councillor Ted Tynan told the JPC that a correlation can be drawn between the reduction in Garda numbers and the increase in gang activity.
He said it is essential that Garda management fill the vacuum created by the collapse of the community policing units.
“These community gardaí were able to deal with young tough guys in a particular manner. They had a calming effect and could nip a lot of activity in the bud.”