Calls for more gardaí in Cork ‘have fallen on deaf ears’

Gardaí working in the Cork City Division say they are weighed down with paperwork, understaffed in comparison with other divisions, and have been stripped of frontline officers who have not been replaced when transferred to new specialist units.

Calls for more gardaí in Cork ‘have fallen on deaf ears’

Gardaí working in the Cork City Division say they are weighed down with paperwork, understaffed in comparison with other divisions, and have been stripped of frontline officers who have not been replaced when transferred to new specialist units.

Garda Representative Association (GRA) central executive committee member Detective Garda Padraig Harrington said new work practices have also added to the workload of members on the front line.

“Every day, members spend a lot of time dealing with email correspondence, updating victim engagement and investigation notes. Members attached to the regular unit in Anglesea Street are also expected to type all witness statements, cautioned memos and statements for investigation files because Garda management has refused to make a typist available to them.

In the age of civilianisation in the force, this particular scenario is farcical

Det Gda Harrington said. He said that frontline units have been stripped of personnel to man new services.

Det Gda Harrington pointed out that eight gardaí were allocated to help run the newly developed courthouse on Anglesea Street. When the Protective Services Unit (PSU) was set up, a further 10 gardaí were allocated to that initially, but currently only eight remain.

The Armed Support Unit has also had 12 new members added to its ranks. The Garda Victims’ Service was also set up and one member has been attached to that, Det Gda Harrington said. In addition, three gardaí have been allocated to the CPD (Continuous Professional Development) unit who provide information to gardaí on new legislation and also look after probationer gardaí.

“Those examples alone add up to over 30 gardaí carrying out duties that were not filled prior to 2013. Over 95% of these positions have been filled from the regular units,” the senior GRA member said.

The new Regional Control Room had more than 20 gardaí allocated to it from uniformed units. Since the introduction of the five-unit/ 10-hour roster system, he said, unit strengths have decreased by 25%. Meanwhile, the Cork City Garda Division has a higher ratio of population to gardaí than many other divisions, particularly in Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR).

Divisions in the DMR also have the added advantage of having the Division Special Detective Unit (SDU) in Harcourt Square and Garda Headquarters to bolster their numbers. The following units operate from Harcourt Square and provide support to the other DMR Divisions: Command and Control, Armed Support, Computer Crime, Fraud, Surveillance, the National Drugs Unit, and Organised Crime Unit.

Det Gda Harrington said: “Cork City does not have the luxury of having an SDU/Harcourt Square-type division in our city, and it would seem that no consideration was given by HRM (Human Resources Management) to the fact that the Cork City Division also provides members to similar units catered for under the umbrella of SDU/Harcourt Square from the 576 Garda members allocated to the Division — Regional Control Room — Crime Special (SDU) Armed Support, Fraud Unit, and Computer Crime Investigation Unit.”

A number of other units that are staffed through resources given to Cork City Division that are not necessarily attached to a normal division include: ICT (Telecoms), Child Specialist Interviewers, Protective Services Unit, Scenes of Crime, Roads Policing, Courts, and Public Service Vehicle licensing.

The GRA has highlighted this discrepancy between the Cork and Dublin divisions and has also carried out an analysis on a more micro level, looking at manpower in Garda districts.

“We also did a brief comparison between some of Cork City Sub Districts to other districts with a comparable population in the DMR (Dublin Metropolitan Region),” Det Gda Harrington said.

According to official Garda figures, Ballincollig has a population of 22,766 and has three gardaí on each regular unit. This equates to one garda per 7,588 people when one unit is working. Ballincollig’s population is comparable to Kilmainham (23,907), Ballymun (21,675), and Cabra (21,851) where regular units have double-digit numbers of members.

We also looked at Douglas with a population of 32,907 and 12 members attached to the five regular units. When only one unit is working, there is one garda member per 14,625 people

Det Gda Harrington pointed out that Douglas is comparable to Lucan (34,769), Clondalkin (32,389) and Ronanstown (32,361) which also have double-digit numbers attached to the regular units. Det Gda Harrington said the manpower situation had become so acute that at times in the city centre, there is no patrol car sent out from Anglesea Street.

“We have to pull in one from Blackrock, and that leaves them without a car. We’re reacting to calls rather than policing and preventing crime,” he said.

There are 16 gardaí operating in five units in the Crime Ordinary section in Anglesea Street. This is down from 29 in 2013.

“As a result, the District Detective Units or the newly rebranded Serious Crime Unit have become a reactionary unit rather than a proactive unit as very limited time can now be spent on patrolling due to the volume of paperwork,” Det Gda Harrington said.

“We currently have three murder investigations on the go and only have 16 detectives attached to the unit to investigate these murders. These 16 detectives are also expected to investigate serious assaults, robberies, and burglaries. It is just not possible with the resources we currently have.

"Even if we were to get people in from the Regular Uniform Units to help, it would be like moving the deck-chairs around on the Titanic. What we need is additional gardaí.”

The GRA highlighted all the issues they had to local senior Garda management in April of this year and their request for more resources was forwarded to Garda HRM shortly afterwards.

“Unfortunately our concerns have fallen on deaf ears in Dublin. It’s the age-old problem, if you’re not in Dublin, you’re treated as a second-class citizen,” Det Gda Harrington added.

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