Check Against Delivery
Topical Issue Debate
Tuesday, 20 February 2018.
“To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality what steps are being taken to address the recent surge in the number of burglaries in the Togher Garda District in Cork and if he will make a statement on the matter.”
- Deputy Michael McGrath.
A Cheann Comhairle,
I would like to thank the Deputy for raising this very important issue.
At the outset, I would like assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána carefully monitors the activities of criminal groups affecting all areas of the country, including Co. Cork, and are implementing strong policing measures to disrupt and dismantle their networks.
The Deputy will appreciate that it is the Garda Commissioner and his management team who are responsible for the deployment of Garda resources however, in terms of specific actions being taken by An Garda Síochána in the District, I am advised by the Garda authorities that as a result of information derived from intelligence sources and investigations, a number of mobile organised criminal gangs have come into focus. I am further advised that a strong crime prevention element has been put in place in the Cork City Division consisting of a number of measures including: uniformed Operation Thor patrols, a dedicated Detective Unit assigned to patrol the off-ramps to Cork City and improved communication between Cork North and Cork West Divisions and other Regions with motorway access to Cork. These measures are further supported by the Armed Support Unit.
As the Deputy will be aware, very significant resources have been provided to An Garda Síochána, including an overtime allocation of almost €100 million announced in Budget 2018, to support large-scale policing operations including Operation Thor. It is also worth noting that Operation Thor has now entered its ‘Winter Phase’ which will run from 29 October 2017 – 1 April 2018. Indeed, provisional operational material, released by the Gardaí in January of this year, indicated a significant drop in burglary rates for the 2 month period of November / December 2017. This success has been attributed to the Winter Phase of Operation Thor. Of course, these figures should be viewed with caution until such time as the publication of the official crime statistics has recommenced.
The scale of Garda activity against burglary and property-related crime under Operation Thor nationally has led to concentrated Garda activity. As of 18 January 2018, 105,790 targeted checkpoints and 99,210 crime prevention patrols have been conducted nationwide. To give you an idea of the impact of the Operation, I can inform you that this concentrated policing activity has produced in the region of 6,600 arrests and 7,420 charges covering a range of offences which, in addition to burglary, include handling stolen property, possession of firearms and drugs offences. Furthermore, Crime Prevention Officers actively engage with community groups to promote the Safer Communities Campaign and advise residents of ways to increase their personal safety and secure their property.
As part of the concerted strategy to combat burglary, the Government has made it a priority to secure the enactment of specific legislation targeting prolific burglars in the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Act 2015. These provisions are now available to Gardaí to support prosecutions arising from Operation Thor.
Furthermore, the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act which has commenced introduced the DNA database, which provides Gardaí with investigative links (’hits’) between people and unsolved crimes, including burglaries. It is anticipated that this will assist in improving detection rates for burglary over the coming years.