Yesterday saw the first meeting of the Joint City Council Garda Committee made up Councillors, Oireachtas members, senior Garda officers and officials from the Council. This Committee meets every two months and provides an opportunity for the Gardai to share updates on their work across the city and individual measures being put in place by Dublin City Council.
Assistant Garda Commissioner for the Dublin Region, Anne Marie Cagney provided the Committee with a comprehensive report detailing the level of crime across the city, policing operations in place, roads policing, Covid-related initiatives, current Garda resources and partnerships the Gardai have put in place with the Homeless Executive, Retail groups, in respect of the night-time economy and the Dublin City Centre Business Forum.
The Assistant Commissioner provided a detailed report on the volume of crime across Dublin in 2020. Statistics provided to the Committee saw a 27% reduction in property related crime and a 35% reduction in burglaries across the city with a 10% fall in the North Inner City. Of equal importance is the improved and heightened level of detections. By the end of 2020, there was a 12% reduction in Crimes against the Person city wide with a 21% fall in minor assaults. In the North Inner City, those figures are 16% down in crimes against the person and 30% reduction in the number of minor assaults that occurred in 2020.
A number of specific operations are in place across the city, including:
- Operation Soteria: came into effect on September 1st 2019 and focuses on reducing the harmful effect of assaults in public places and drive a pro-arrest, pre-enforcement, early investigation approach when incidents of assaults and associated crimes occur in a public place.
- Operation Tara: came into effect in 2020 to combat drug use focusing particularly on street level drug dealing and local drug dealers. As a result of this pro-active approach, overall drug detection offences increased by years’ end by 16%. Across the North Inner City, offences under the Possession of illegal drugs for intended sale and supply was up 9% with offences under possession for intended personal use up by 1%,
- Operation Fogra: is a positive frontline response in collaboration with local drug awareness task forces to help provide evidence based strategic response to this community harm.
- Operation Spire: is an ongoing high visibility policing operation tackling increased levels of on-street drug dealing, associated anti-social and criminal behaviour in the vicinity of O’Connell Street. The final three months of 2020 saw a combined approach of uniformed and plain clothed Gardai that led to 338 arrests.
- Operation Pier: is a similar operation within the Pearse Street District that saw 388 arrests occur in the final three months of 2020.
- Operation Faoiseamh: was instigated on April 1st, 2020 as a police response to an increase in Domestic Abuse during the initial Covid-19 related lockdown. This operation provides an enhanced level of support, protection and reassurance to victims of domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic. Domestic Abuse incidents in 2020 were up 16% on 2019 and 23% increase in the North Inner City policing division. The Assistant Commissioner also reported that call back Garda compliance rates improved from approximately 40% to approximately 70% in 2020.
- Operation Hybrid: continues to provide an armed response to organised crime across the city. This operation is reviewed on a weekly basis and it incorporates a number of hi-visibility armed checkpoints and patrols throughout the city.
- Operation Thor Winter Initiative: commenced on October 1st, 2020and its focus is on the prevention of burglary and associated theft and property crime. The delivery of this operation incorporates the deployment of all operational personnel including the Crime Detective Units, Divisional Burglary Response Units, Drugs Units, Community Policing Units, Traffic Personnel, National, Regional and Divisional Support.
During the meeting, I took the opportunity to thank the Gardai for all their work across the North Inner City, Dublin and throughout the country for how they are policing the Level 5 restrictions associated with the pandemic. I also raised concerns relating to:
- The actual number of stop and searches under the various section of the Misuse of Drugs Act across the North Inner City. Since the pandemic hit and especially following the ‘first wave’ lockdown, householders and residents across the Inner City have highlighted their concerns to me about drug dealing. What was particularly worrying for me was that dealing was becoming a problem in areas where it hadn’t been a problem previously.
- Scamming via text message and emails has become much more frequent and I understand with the increase of online shopping, that peoples’ personal bank accounts or Credit Card accounts are at a greater risk of attack. Indeed, since Christmas, I have had people contact me who have experienced such incidents. Therefore, I asked the Assistant Commissioner to ensure that the Gardaí launch a targeted campaign to help raise awareness of the risks associated with this.
- Given the level of debate recently about the use of the Phoenix Park and the grounds upon its closure by the OPW and the Gardaí, I sought clarity from the Assistant Commissioner on the criteria upon which a closure is recommended to the OPW and the Minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works.
- Finally, North Wallers have been in contact with me since Christmas expressing concern about ongoing gang related activity which compounded in recent days with a knife crime incident last week. I sought an update on the status of the investigation and that the Gardaí maintain a highly visible approach to provide reassurance to residents that this type of anti-social behaviour will be targeted and those involved dealt with.
I hope this information is of interest to you. If you have any questions about the details outlined above or any specific policing or anti-social related issue, please get in touch with me at RayMcAdam@gmail.com.
Arbour Hill, Ballybough, Broadstone, Church Street, City Centre, Clonliffe Road, Constitution Hill, Drumcondra, Dublin City Council, East Wall, Fine Gael, Garda, Grangegorman, Markets, Montpelier, North Circular Road, North Strand, North Wall, Phibsborough, Policing, Quays, Rathdown Road, Smithfield, Stoneybatter
Fine Gael Councillor - North Inner City
Chair, Urban Form & Planning Strategic Policy Committee