The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., along with his colleague, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. John Gormley T.D., today launched new Guidelines for the Joint Policing Committees established by the Garda Síochána Act 2005. The Guidelines will enable the committees to be established in all local authority areas. The launch was also attended by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Eibhlin Byrne, and the Garda Commissioner, Fachtna Murphy.
These Committees provide a forum for An Garda Síochána, local authorities, Oireachtas members and community interests, who can all make an important contribution to addressing issues relating to crime locally, to get together in a regular and structured way to consult with each other, discuss and make recommendations on matters affecting the policing of the local authority’s area.
Speaking at the joint launch today in Dublin City Hall, Minister Ahern said: "I believe that, over time, these Committees will make an enormous contribution to keeping our communities safe. Fundamentally, they represent a partnership between the people, through their representatives and An Garda Síochána. Individual members of An Garda Síochána, and public representatives, have always tried to work closely together to solve problems in the communities they serve.
Joint Policing Committees provide a structured way in which Gardaí and public representatives can come together, along with other community interests, to address the problems of crime - and, indeed, the problems that may be contributing to crime - in their areas."
As the intention was to establish a Joint Policing Committee in each of the 114 local authority areas, it was decided to first run a pilot scheme to gain experience in their operation and ensure best practice before full rollout. 29 Committees were established nationwide in 2006 and 2007 as a pilot phase. In the case of Dublin City, there are also five subcommittees, corresponding to the operational areas of the City Council, which progress the work of the Dublin City Committee.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Gormley said: "Joint Policing Committees are also a means by which communities can have an increased sense that policing in their areas reflects their concerns and the support of the entire community for the work of An Garda Síochána can be maintained and developed."
The new Guidelines were signed by Minister Ahern following consultations with the Ministers for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The new Guidelines take on board the experience gained in the pilot phase. In preparation for this work, a consultation day was held in November 2007, involving participants of the 29 pilot Committees, to discuss the experience gained in the operation of their Committees.
The functions of a Joint Policing Committee include:
monitoring two broad areas:
firstly, the levels and patterns of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour in its area, including patterns and levels of misuse of alcohol and drugs; and
secondly, the broader issue of the factors underlying and contributing to crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour;
advising the local authority and An Garda Síochána on how they might best perform their functions, having regard to the need to do everything feasible to improve the safety and quality of life and to prevent crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour within the area;
arranging, and hosting, public meetings periodically on matters affecting the policing of the local authority area.
A copy of the Guidelines is available on the Department’s website www.justice.ie.
24 September 2008
Note for Editors
There were 29 Committees established nationwide in 2006 and 2007 as the pilot phase:
Fingal, Kerry, Offaly, South Dublin and Wicklow County Councils; Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford City Councils; Clonmel, Drogheda and Sligo Borough Councils; Athy, Arklow, Ballinasloe, Birr, Bray, Carrick-on-Suir, Cavan, Edenderry, Greystones, Letterkenny, Mallow, New Ross, Tralee, Tuam, Tullamore and Wicklow Town Councils.
In the case of Dublin City, there are also five subcommittees, corresponding to the operational areas of the City Council.