Sam Boal
logan report

Garda car shortage meant hour delay in child 'abduction' response

It also took two hours for the incident to be assigned to a garda.

GARDAÍ TOOK MORE than an hour to attend the scene of a “high priority” reported child abduction due to a lack of transport.

And it wasn’t until two hours after gardaí were first informed of the incident that it was assigned to an officer.

The incident was outlined in the Logan report, published earlier this week, which investigated two incidents where children were wrongly taken into foster care.

Gardaí visited the homes of a two-year-old in Athlone, Co Westmeath, and a seven-year-old in Tallght, Dublin, both members of the Roma community, following suspicions that these children had been abducted.


This was fuelled by concerns over their fair appearance. A blonde, blue-eyed child at a Roma camp in Greece had recently been recovered and returned to its original parents.

Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan found in the report that there wasn’t a “reasonable to objective reason” for the the two children to be taken into care, and called one incident the “definition of racial profiling”.

In one of these cases, centred around Child A in Athlone, gardaí were first contacted the Missing Persons Beureu at 3.24pm, after a member of the public had emailed their concerns that the child may not belong to the family.

The report read:

Receiving such an email through the Missing Persons Bureau caused the Gardaí in Athlone Garda Station to treat the case as a potentially high-risk situation and one requiring immediate Garda action.

Having been tied up with other duties, a Sergeant was unable to address the report until 5.30pm, and assign a garda who is familiar with the family to the case.

At 7pm, [the garda] called to Child A’s home and was accompanied by [a colleague]. The delay in arriving at Child A’s home was due to the absence of transport at the Garda station until that time.

The home is located less than 4km from the garda station.

One garda source told there there “major issues” within the force in terms of availability of vehicles, with “constant delays” reported.

PastedImage-67558 Athlone Garda Station Google Maps Google Maps

Another noted that cars are not pooled at stations and available to whichever Garda members require them.

“They are attached to the specific section, such as Traffic Corp or Detective Branch, even when that section is not working, that car is not available to the regular unit and that Garda car may be left locked in the Garda station”, they said.

It is understood that in some rural areas there is not a patrol car available to respond at all times.

“€9m was secured towards the end of 2013 for investment in the Garda fleet,” a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said.

This investment resulted in the purchase of 305 new Garda vehicles at a cost of €5 million. These were in addition to the 133 new Garda vehicles which had already been procured during the year. The remaining €4 million has been made available for the purchase and fit out of Garda vehicles in 2014.

However this was previously criticised by the Garda Representative Association as it will only keep the number of vechilces ‘at its current level’ rather than increasing the number on the road.

The Justice spokesperson noted “that allocation of all policing resources, including transport, at both Divisional and Regional level is subject to ongoing monitoring and review by An Garda Síochána to ensure that the optimum use is made of available resource”.

Last year revealed that garda escort motorcycles were taken off the road for July and August, while local traffic units covered escorts.

The motorcycles, which are used for presidential escorts, in the transportation of prisoners to and from court and for escorting ambulances to hospitals in serious cases, are also used in regular traffic duty.

Additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy

Read: Garda escort bikes out of action for two months >

More: “Ethnic profiling” a factor in removal of Roma children, report finds >

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.