News that Athlone Garda Station will not be afforded new recruits to bolster policing numbers in the community is disheartening, local Councillor, Aengus O’Rourke, has claimed.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, Cllr. O’Rourke noted that it was the second time within three months that Athlone and the local region had been overlooked from a garda numbers enhancement perspective.
“This is hugely disappointing news, with the Garda Representative Association recently confirming to me that numbers are not what they should and need to be in our local station and indeed, throughout the region,” Cllr. O’Rourke emphasised.
Noting that 2016 was the previous year that new recruits were allocated to Athlone Garda Station, Cllr. O’Rourke stressed that it was near impossible to have an effective community policing unit when relevant personnel were so few.
“Athlone Garda Station, in particular, is way behind with regard to community policing numbers and it is utterly impossible to provide an effective service on our streets in this instance,” Cllr. O’Rourke commented.
Stressing that a properly established community policing model provides a “layer of early intervention” enhancing informative links with local schools and sports organisations, Cllr. O’Rourke spoke of the problematic issues such as street crime and drug usage which arise when Garda personnel are not in situ in relevant numbers.
“We have major plans for industrial and population growth in our town going forward, but we must have a community policing unit to match such progressive and ambitious developments. Both need to advance in sync,” Cllr. O’Rourke stated.
Addressing the situation, an Athlone based member of An Garda Siochana, noted that four Garda reserves had been appointed to the local station in recent times to supplement numbers.
“We are well aware that national incidents are unfortunately taking precedence when it comes to the allocation to Garda stations of new recruits. However, we are hopeful that new personnel will be afforded to our station in the near future,” the local Garda source affirmed.