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fluid criminals

Gardaí investigated 621 criminal gangs (sounds like a lot, right? ... It's complicated)

As one officer explained, some criminals could be in more than one gang at any given time.

File Photo Mr Howlin said 2.2 billion will be allocated to the justice sector, which will allow for the future recruitment of more gardai Leon Farrell / RollingNews.ie Leon Farrell / RollingNews.ie / RollingNews.ie

Updated at 10.25pm

AN GARDA SIOCHÁNA released their latest annual report today, covering 2014.

As usual, it contained some interesting stats: for instance, that €698 million in controlled drugs were seized, and that the Garda Air Support Unit flew 1,376 missions.

The main figure that jumped out at us, however: that the force had investigated 621 organised criminal gangs involved in crimes like drug dealing, burglary and car theft.

It seemed a little high, no?

Well, yes.

“I think we should qualify that number by saying that by its very nature, [the way] crime gangs operate is very fluid,” Detective Superintendent Anthony Howard told RTÉ News earlier.

“[Criminals] will work together for a criminal enterprise, and once they’ve achieved their goal they will splinter and they will sign up with other members.

“So while on one hand, it would appear that there are a significant number – over 600 – in fact because of the fluid nature of how they operate, some members will operate in two or three gangs at the same time.”

That said, there are “a number of serious organised crime gangs” operating in the country, according to Howard.

Other figures

Elsewhere, a total of 9,179 missing person cases were investigated in 2014, up from 7,753.

Some 31 people are still missing.

Other figures in the report include:

  • 2,369 people were charged under anti-burglary crackdown Operation Fiacla
  • 2,315 fingerprint hits from cases dealt with by the fingerprint section
  • There was 100,000 subscribers to Text Alert crime prevention schemes
  • @GardaTraffic now has 105,000 followers on Twitter, the largest following in the public sector

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan described 2014 as a year when gardaí faced “many challenges”.

Last year saw scandals such as reports of bugging at the offices of the Garda Ombudsman, inquiries into the retirement of garda commissioner Martin Callinan and the recording of phone calls at garda stations (the report on which has yet to be published), the resignation of Alan Shatter as minister for justice, several allegations surrounding malpractice and corruption from whistleblowers.

A new Policing Authority was also announced.

Memorial service for Gardai Former minister for justice Alan Shatter and former garda commissioner Martin Callinan. Niall Carson / PA Wire Niall Carson / PA Wire / PA Wire

“We are determined these events will come to define the organisation in a positive manner,” O’Sullivan said in her foreword to the report.

The challenges we faced gave us an opportunity to evaluate numerous aspects of how we carry out our work and we began putting in place an extensive transformation programme.

She described the force as “open to a culture of change”.

With reporting by Daragh Brophy.

Read: Gardaí in Cork are taking care of an exceptionally cute kitten >

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