Calleary calls for beefed up Garda resources to tackle rural crime

1351238024– Latest burglary highlights new levels of sophistication in criminal gangs –

Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Callery says more resources are urgently needed to tackle the urban crime epidemic.  Over the last few months there have been a number of burglaries and break-ins across the county creating a real sense of fear among people living in rural or isolated areas.

Deputy Calleary commented, “It has taken the Government four years to wake up to the seriousness of the rural crime wave that has been sweeping through the country and now that it has, Ministers are trying to spin their way out of the problem.  However, the roll out of high powered vehicles will not replace the Garda stations which this Government has closed, or the Gardai who have retired or been relocated.  Rural communities need a local Garda presence, but the slash and burn policies of Fine Gael and Labour have left towns and villages across Mayo seriously depleted.

“The levels to which criminals are prepared to go cannot be underestimated – and recent burglaries in the county are cases in point.  Gangs removed roof tiles and disabled all the security settings in a pub and shop recently in order to gain access.  These are not opportunistic crimes, they are sophisticated, premeditated operations, and are unfortunately becoming more prevalent.

“The Government cannot continue to ignore the seriousness of this issue.  Piecemeal announcements and targeted PR stunts will not wash with the communities affected by crime.  Fianna Fáil has put forward a series of measures designed to tackle the scourge of rural crime.  The full seven point plan consists of

– 14,000 Gardaí
We are committed to strengthening the Garda force to 14,000 members and maintaining Garda numbers at this optimal level. We will seek to increase the Garda Reserve to 2000 members. We will also provide the squad cars necessary for the Gardaí to carry out their duties.

– Protect the Elderly
We will enact legislation to introduce longer sentences for those who assault elderly persons who are increasingly vulnerable in rural communities.

– Tougher Sentences
We will introduce legislation for mandatory minimum sentences for those who are convicted of burglary offences. We will also establish a Sentencing Council to promote consistency in sentencing.

– Neighbourhood Watch
We commit to establishing a national neighbourhood watch directorate to centrally support and drive community neighbourhood watch programmes across the county.

– CCTV on Motorway Network
We will install CCTV cameras on Motorway exits to detect criminal activity.

– Investment in Technology
We propose a significant investment programme in the technology Gardaí currently use to allow for smarter policing in our rural communities.

– Restorative Justice
We commit to expanding the use of restorative justice in our criminal justice system where appropriate and ensure that community service orders are fit for purpose and monitored effectively. We will deduct the cost of free criminal legal aid from those convicted from their income and social welfare payments.

“These measures are specifically designed to clamp down on rural crime.  Communities in Mayo and across the country should not have to live in fear of career criminals.  This Government’s record on crime is disgraceful – it is time is adopted proposals like the ones Fianna Fáil has put forward so that this crime epidemic can be tackled”.