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Question

3. Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to improve policing in the Stepaside area in County Dublin; if her attention has been drawn to the spike in burglaries in the area since the closure of the Garda station there; if she will provide figures for crime in the area since the station closed; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that, since the station closed, residents and businesses in the immediate vicinity of the station have been targeted by criminals; if her attention has been further drawn to the number of arrests and convictions secured for such crimes; if she will reconsider the re-opening of the station, in view of the sense of insecurity felt by residents of the neighbourhood, since it closed; her plans to carry out a review of the Government's disastrous decision to close many Garda stations nationwide, in particular, the mistaken decision to close the station in Stepaside; and if she will highlight the successes achieved in catching criminals in the area, since the closure of this station. [7330/15]

Answer

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: The publication of crime statistics is a matter for the Central Statistics Office, as the independent national statistical agency. The CSO is carrying out, at my urging having met it, an investigation and detailed analysis of certain issues raised by the Garda Inspectorate on the recording, classification and reclassification of crime to see whether and to what extent they may have implications for the crime statistics which that office produces. There has been some comment about the last quarter of last year not yet being available. That is because they are doing this exercise, and I want to put that on the record of the House. Those statistics will be available shortly and I will make them available to the Deputy.
I am very aware of the concerns in regard to burglary and I am working closely with the Garda Síochána and other relevant criminal justice agencies to ensure an effective, whole-of-system response is in place. The general trend fell in 2013, as the Deputy knows, but there has been an increase overall in burglary offences. It is a heinous crime and has a dreadful impact on people.
The Garda Síochána is reacting to those increases, very often carried out by mobile gangs moving into an area. The Garda has responded through Operation Acer, which is in force throughout the Dublin metropolitan region. I have had discussions with the Garda Commissioner and other relevant agencies on this. The operation involves burglary response units attached to each division taking the lead, which is very important. There have been a number of initiatives in the Deputy's area. This work is monitoring the movements of burglary suspects and has resulted in many successful arrests. These operations are being co-ordinated by the Garda in a very careful way. Since Operation Acer commenced in early 2012, there have been almost 5,500 arrests, 2,746 charges and 1,087 convictions for burglary in the Dublin area up to 3 February 2015.
The Deputy asked what I am doing. There is clearly a practical operational issue for the Garda in this regard but, equally, I am looking at the legislative changes that may be necessary and the criminal justice response to burglary. We need to consider an inter-agency response to make sure we are bringing together all of those working on crime prevention and that we have support in the communities, as is being developed in the Dublin area, where communities are themselves taking action through text messaging and various other initiatives. I am examining whether other legislative changes ought to be introduced in regard to this issue.