Comment: A victory in the fight on rural crime

Comment: A victory in the fight on rural crime

In sentencing three men for possession of stolen property and the unlawful taking of a vehicle, Circuit Court Judge Keenan Johnson said that their actions had contributed to the destruction of trust in rural Ireland.

It takes no great leap of logic to see how the judge arrived at this conclusion.

The apprehension of these men took place after a spate of intense and sustained criminal activity in country areas, in which the defining characteristic of these burglaries were their frequency and brazeness.

It literally led to a climate of fear and loathing in the countryside, something which did indeed demolish the harmony and trust that had once been a hallmark of country life.

In its place has come a more hardened and cynical outlook, which acknowledges the reality that no one is immune from the activities of criminal gangs.

Of course, local communities have been very proactive in taking steps to protect themselves and look out for the welfare of all their members.

Initiatives such as text alert, community alert areas and CCTV have proven successful and reassuring.

However, the intensity of this crime spree did engender a feeling of helplessness amongst the general population, a sense that everyone was vulnerable and that the authorities were seemingly powerless to do anything about it.

Not so.

The apprehension and sentencing of these men on the specific charges they faced has at least sent a message to the public that they are, at least, far from alone in facing up to the threat of crime and combating it.

The gardai involved were resourceful and brave in their pursuit, and they put their own lives on the line in the capturing these men.

This was policing at its very best, and it has delivered tangible results to the local community.

No one is naive enough to believe that crime, in its many variations, can be crushed or will disappear away entirely.

However, it can certainly be tempered.

More community interaction is needed, and this needs to be matched by more community policing.

Garda recruitment is taking place again and let's hope that more resources will become available as the economic climate continues to improve, in order to continue the good work.