Groups call for more community policing
COMMUNITY groups in Malahide and Portmarnock gathered last week to call for more community policing in the area after a spate of recent break-ins that have particularly targeted vulnerable groups like the elderly and the disabled.
The public meeting, held at the Portmarnock Sports and Leisure Club, was hosted by the Labour party and local councillor, Peter Coyle, who has been lobbying for some time for an increase in community gardai in the Malahide electoral area said the meeting was a useful one with many valuable contributions from the floor from neighbourhood watch groups and residents associations.
Particular concerns were raised at the meeting about drink-fuelled anti-social behaviour and the sale of alcohol to minors.
One contribution warned of the dangers of new home delivery services offered by off-licences. The so-called ‘dial-a-can’ services often deliver to houses where minors can get their hands on the alcohol, according to one concerned resident.
Cllr Coyle is concerned that while crime in the Malahide electoral area is on the rise, the number of community police in the area has been falling.
The Labour man said: ‘I note the number of Gardaí allocated to the Malahide Garda Station has dropped in recent years. Various official responses have confirmed this drop. A recent official statement for the numbers based in Malahide at December 31 1997, 2002 and 2005 was 43, 43 and 40 respectively.’
Cllr Coyle said the Malahide electoral area had fallen way below the Dublin average for garda numbers per head of population but recently, numbers have been heading in the right direction again after much lobbying by local politicians and local residents groups and neighbourhood watch schemes.
Three new community Gardaí have arrived at Malahide station in recent weeks and another two are expected soon, straight from Templemore.
After discussions with Chief Superintendent, Peter Maguire, Cllr Coyle believes more community police is the answer to the anti-social behaviour problem in the area.
A new station at Portmarnock is not favoured as it’s thought that new stations simply tie up Gardai with office work.
Cllr Coyle said that with more community Gardaí there could be a ‘clinic’ system developed in places like Portmarnock and Kinsealy where Gardaí would visit the area two or three times a week and provide a point of contact with them and the local community.
The Labour councillor believes Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell’s plan to establish a reserve garda force is a ‘smokescreen’ and not the answer to the real problems facing policing in this country.
Instead, Cllr Coyle favours greater co-operation between Gardaí, local community groups and the local authority in preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
Labour's General Election candidate in Dublin North, Brendan Ryan, told the meeting that that during recent walkabouts in Portmarnock he had been informed of a lack of Garda visibility on the ground and worries about break-ins and anti-social behaviour.
The meeting, which was chaired by his brother, Sean Ryan TD, also heard from a woman from Malahide, who lives alone and had been burgled twice in recent times. She believed the criminals were sharing information about vulnerable or easy targets.
General Election candidate, Brendan Ryan told the meeting: ‘We need real community policing. That means getting Gardaí visibly and primarily back on the beat.
The public meeting on crime and policing follows a recent survey conducted by the Labour Party into anti-social behaviour which found that over half the people surveyed had serious concerns about anti-social behaviour in their area
Fingal Independent 25th May 2006