Gardaí have confirmed this week that a new rostering system introduced earlier this month has allowed the Garda Síochána to target resources, meaning that more gardaí are on the streets at peak times. However Cllr Michael Crowe has this week hit out at the apparent lack of gardaí on the city’s streets at night.
According to Cllr Crowe Government cutbacks have resulted in “a severe lack” of gardaí on the city’s streets at night, which he said is leading to an increase in violent crime, vandalism, and antisocial activity.
The new Garda Roster and Working Time Agreement, implemented on September 11, was introduced to ensure the best use of resources while protecting the welfare of gardaí. It is the first major change in Garda working arrangements in more than 40 years, and uses overlapping shifts to ensure more gardaí are available at peak times. The new arrangements also aimed to make the most of Garda resources in light of a reduced budget for policing.
Cllr Crowe hit out this week at the budget restrictions placed on the Garda, which he said must be reversed in order to ensure effective policing. He said he had been contacted by several constituents in recent weeks regarding the apparent absence of gardaí on the streets at night.
“What is really at the core of the problem is the Government’s continuing cuts in the Garda budgets which results in the gardaí having significant less resources to do their job in a manner that the people of Galway expect and, more importantly, deserve,” he said. “In my view the Government has, over the last 18 months, given the advantage to law breakers as a direct result of their continued cutting of money to the Gardaí and I am fearful if this continues then problems will deteriorate even further. Governing is about choices, and to me cutting Garda budgets further should no longer even be considered, never mind a choice.
“We must have a more visible presence of gardaí on our streets,” Cllr Crowe warned. “Galway has always been a relatively safe place and citizens and visitors alike need to be assured that this will continue. There are large numbers of people that congregate in the same places every night and in particular on weekend nights. These spots alone need more of a Garda presence as it is often that an incident happens or begins in these places.”
“I am asking that the Government, and indeed the Minister for Justice, ensures that the Gardaí have the necessary budgets to increase the presence on the streets of Ireland’s third biggest city. We have heretofore managed to keep out and deal with a lot of serious crime that goes on in other cities and we must do all we can to ensure this remains so. As a member of the joint policing committee in the city, I will also be raising these matters with the Garda authorities and hope to be reassured that all that can be done is being done.”
A spokesperson for Galway Garda Station told the Galway Advertiser that the new working arrangement has actually resulted in an increase in the number of gardaí on the streets at night in the two weeks since the new rosters were introduced.
“The new rostering system has increased the number of gardaí on the street,” the spokesperson said. “There is greater visibility and there are extra gardaí working at peak times. Resources have been reduced, but we are still managing to police effectively.”