The number of community gardaí in Galway has fallen from 21 in 2011 to 12 in 2017, a decrease of some 33 per cent, an statistic one local politician has called “appalling” and “shocking”.
The drop in the numbers of community gardaí are reflected across the State with the total number in the force falling from 1,112 in 2010 to 691 in 2017. Sinn Féin city councillor, and the party Galway West candidate, Mairéad Farrell, said the figures illustrate how “successive governments have zero interest in community policing and are unwilling to invest in it”.
Cllr Farrell said “the difference a good community garda” can make to an area “is huge”. She said: “It can be transformative. Community gardaí can build up relationships and trust with people at risk of offending, particularly young people, and direct them in a more positive direction, such as through the Garda Youth Diversion Projects. They also improve public confidence in policing locally, and ingrain themselves in community activity locally.”
The Galway City East councillor has called on the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, to arrest the decline and begin reinvesting in community policing. “Failing to make these kinds of investments,” she said, “could undo the good work that was built up, particularly in disadvantaged communities, over many years.”