17 OCTOBER 2018
ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock had said “People in rural Ireland are living in fear and that it’s time to prioritise the fight against crime and time to deliver enough resources to the Gardai.” Mr Sherlock made his comments while addressing the issue of Community Policing & Rural Crime before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality this morning.
Continuing Mr Sherlock said, “There is no substitute for having Gardaí on the ground. We need local communities to be on first name terms with Gardaí. ICSA is concerned that restrictions on Garda overtime is impacting the ability to fight crime and to be on the case rapidly. We want to see a higher Garda presence in rural areas, and the ability to respond to calls for help as fast as possible.”
“The feeling among many is that it is better to call your neighbour than to call the Gardaí when you feel threatened.” He said many farmers are spending money trying to make their premises more secure but that these solutions are not cheap for individual farm families. Mr Sherlock added however that rural communities were more than willing to play their part in combating crime through community policing initiatives but that these initiatives were in need of more resources.
“ICSA is also concerned that criminals who continuously re-offend get treated too lightly by the criminal justice system. All too often, we see crime committed by individuals who should be in jail. We want to see stiffer sentencing for repeat offenders. The purpose of the criminal justice system should also be about protecting innocent people in their homes.”
Mr Sherlock was also critical of the CCTV scheme introduced to assist communities with installing cameras locally as a crime deterrent. The initiative has proved overly cumbersome for communities to engage with, which has resulted in a low up-take. “An urgent review needs to be carried out at this stage to see how local communities can be further assisted with utilising the scheme. Of particular importance is clarification as to whether the Gardaí or local authorities are responsible managing the footage collected.”