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Calls for electronic monitoring to be a condition of bail for repeat offenders

‘The ability for criminals to access rural Ireland via the improved motorway network has had a real impact on rural crime.’

File Photo: A small electronic monitoring device used in the UK judicial system
File Photo: A small electronic monitoring device used in the UK judicial system
Image: PA Archive via Press Association Images

ELECTRONIC MONITORING SHOULD be a condition of bail for repeat offenders according to Fianna Fáil, who are calling for a number of measures to crack down on rural crime.

In 2016, 13% of all crimes were committed by people who were out on bail, an increase of 2% on the previous year.

Fianna Fáil Justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan says the ability for criminals to access rural Ireland via the improved motorway network has had a real impact on rural crime.

The party is also calling for the re-opening of garda stations and rolling out of garda controlled CCTV.

O’Callaghan said, “There have been reports of particularly distressing crimes over recent months including violent armed robbery carried out on vulnerable older people living in the midlands and in areas that happen to be without a nearby 24 hour garda presence.”

The justice spokesperson was quick to criticise the closure of rural garda stations in 2013 and said mechanisms such as garda controlled CCTV and GPS tracking was important for rural Ireland.

CCTV 

As of 2016, there were 91 public CCTV schemes in place, nationally, comprising of 36 garda schemes and 55 community schemes.

A garda representative said cameras will reduce the “incidences of crime, anti-social behaviour, public disorder, vandalism and the general fear of crime”.

However, the Data Commissioner is set to examine the status of community CCTV schemes, as well as automatic number plate recognition systems.

The government pledged €1 million earlier this year to help communities install CCTV in at risk areas in a bid to stamp out crime and help policing.

But up until last month, just five applications were received and no applications were approved by the Department of Justice as they were deemed incomplete.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith said he believed groups are simply not aware of the programme.

Living in Fear 

A National Agricultural Crime Survey from the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) found 45% of all agricultural crime incidents experienced by respondents were not reported to gardaí.

565 of the survey’s 861 respondents experienced 1,512 incidents of agricultural crime between 1 January 2014 and 31 May 2016.

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock said: “Nobody should have to live in a state of constant fear and anxiety as a result of feeling under siege due to lack of garda resources.

The ordinary decent people of rural Ireland are outraged that criminals seem to be acting with impunity.

Fianna Fail Justice Spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan told TheJournal.ie that he regularly hears about rural crime that it’s causing a huge amount of fear.

We need to respond to that, we can’t just ignore it and say crime figures on balance aren’t that high.

When asked if he thinks the figures are lower than expected because people aren’t actually reporting it, O’Callaghan said, “I think that’s probably correct.

“If you look at CEO reported crime statistic you’ll notice that there’s a sort of an odd drop in respect of burglary and aggravated burglary – I don’t know what’s the explanation for that.

The gardaí may say it’s because of the success of operation Thor, my understanding from talking to constituencies colleagues is that many crimes committed in local and rural communities aren’t being reported to the gardaí.

“I don’t think the figures can be relied upon as an accurate representation of the level of crime in rural communities.”

Read: ’Nobody should live in fear due to lack of garda resources’: 45% of all agricultural crime not reported to gardaí>

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