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Gardaí have spent €20 million on private tow truck firms since 2012

Gardaí say it’s the price to pay for good police work.

Gardaí removing a vehicle for forensic inspection.
Gardaí removing a vehicle for forensic inspection.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

GARDAÍ HAVE SPENT €19.56 million on hiring private companies to provide tow trucks services since 2012, TheJournal.ie has learned.

Gardaí hire private towing operators to assist with the removal of cars to a pound for a number of reasons including for inspections as a result of an accident.

Towing also occurs when vehicles are seized under section 41 of the Road Traffic Act or where the driver has no insurance, no tax for over three months or the driver is under age. 

The amount of money spent on towing has also increased significantly in recent years. 

In 2012, €2,439,120 was spent on the services. Last year, it cost over €4 million. 

€348, 344 has so far been spent this year. If this rate were to continue, it would mean that over €4.2 million will be spent on this service by the end of 2019. 

Some frontline gardaí familiar with the working of this operation are perplexed that management doesn’t just buy a number of towing vehicles and train a number of members to use them – thus saving the force millions every year.   

But others see the rising cost of towing as a symptom of the good work done by officers. The more vehicle seizures gardaí make, the more there is a need for tow truck services.

The average cost of one towing service is roughly €70. On average, this means that 1,100 cars were towed per week in 2018.

TOWING The breakdown of the figures. Source: Garda

These latest figures come as garda management continues to fight overspending in the force. 

Late last year, it emerged that all overtime was suspended, except in certain circumstances – like for court hearings – in an attempt to correct the garda budget by 30% before the end of 2018.

It is the spending on services such as towing where middle-ranking gardaí feel there is significant savings to be made. Rank and file officers believe savings in these administrative areas could see the return of more overtime hours.

As things stand, supervisors have been told not to approve overtime for frontline staff, except under exceptional circumstances.

The Garda Press Office has been contacted for comment.

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