The Social Democrats launched their new position paper called ‘Garda Resource Allocation 2021’, recently which revealed that the distribution of Gardaí across divisions is extremely unbalanced, particularly in the Greater Dublin Area and that County Meath, continues to be the “worst resourced county” when it comes to policing.
Speaking following the release of this report, Trim based Social Democrats Councillor, Ronan Moore, noted that “It is particularly staggering that at a time when we have the Minister for Justice hailing from Meath, we are still far and away the worst resourced county for Gardaí in the country, ranking lowest in the number of Gardaí per person”.
Moore said: “While the proportion of Gardaí per person has improved slightly in recent years, we remain the worst resourced division in the country with 1 Garda to every 586 persons. We trail Kildare which is the second-least resourced county at 1 Garda to every 527 persons, and far before counties such as Westmeath, Waterford and Mayo”.
“What this means on the ground is that there are villages and towns in rural Meath where residents are waiting far too long for a Garda to respond to their call. This is making it easier for criminals and burglars who target rural properties; knowing that a patrol car could be twenty or thirty minutes away. And as we know many of our Gardaí stations have been closed or are only operating on part-time hours”.
On the subject of the inequal distribution of Gardaí, Moore explained: “the reason for this is because Meath has experienced the highest rate of population growth over the past 20 years, rising by 78%. While this growth has been clearly documented in CSO data, it has not been met by an adequate increase in Gardaí resources”.
“Despite repeated recommendations and reports, there is no evidence-based resource allocation method used by An Garda Síochána. The Garda Inspectorate made such a recommendation in 2009, but their ‘Policing with Local Communities’ report in 2018 found that the service is still lacking the ability to determine the staffing and resources needs of each division. They found that due to low staffing levels, there were often insufficient Gardaí on duty to deal with the needs of their local communities and that this was most prominent in rural communities, many of which feel increasingly isolated.”
Moore concluded: “At the heart of this report is the clear evidence that Meath has too few Gardaí and this needs to be corrected. And to properly address this we need to have evidence-based approach to the distribution of resources within An Garda Síochána”.