Laois Offaly Chief Superintendent slams people posting Garda checkpoint locations on social media
The Chief Superintendent for the Laois-Offaly Garda Division has criticised the practice of posting garda checkpoint locations on social media.
Speaking to Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio 1 about the Task Force set up to tackle burglary gangs in the wake of an attack on Richie McKelvey in Brosna, Co. Offaly two weeks ago, Chief Superintendent John Scanlon said "the ship has sailed" on such warnings.
"Traditionally drivers flashed their headlights to warn others about checkpoints for road traffic offences, but people need to realise that garda checkpoints are now about stopping serious criminals."
"It's disappointing to see this response to checkpoints - people warning others about them on social media," he added. He described it as a call for a little "social responsibility" in asking people to stop engaging in such online activity.
Scanlon went on to reference the attack on Richie McKelvey, expressing a hope that the case will come to a successful conclusion. "I always hold out hope," he said, going on to say that, "we [the gardaí] are out there, gathering as much evidence as we can, with a view to hopefully bringing these people before the courts."
He said the Task Force of eight gardaí who will be working solely on this area of rural crime in Laois-Offaly, was about "laying down a challenge" to these criminals who think they can "maraud around rural Ireland, targeting innocent people."
He said the gardaí would do everything they could to "take out the bureaucracy" around CCTV systems to help more community groups establish such defences against crime.
He said CCTV is an important and helpful resource, even in cases where criminals use fake plates. "We can still trace the movements of criminals, while the vehicles they use may have distinctive markings that we can use to piece together information," Chief Superintendent Scanlon said.
He said there are already eight CCTV systems in place in the Laois/Offaly Division and that Gardaí will support the implementation of more.
When questioned by O'Rourke about the idea of homeowners taking the law into their own hands by arming themselves with shotguns, as was muted in the South Offaly area recently, Chief Superintendent Scanlon advised people against such action.
"I have been to too many very serious incidents where firearms have been used, so that is not the way forward," he commented.
"We must offer reassurances to people that the gardaí are there to deal with these criminals and we are out there," he insisted.
No arrests have yet been made in relation to the attack on Richie McKelvey in early November, but investigations are ongoing.