LAOIS-OFFALY is way below the national average for the number of gardaí per members of the public, according to Brian Stanley TD.
The local Sinn Fein TD made the startling revelation at this week’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee, in the wake of the recent closure of garda stations in Ballacolla and Ballinakill.
Deputy Stanley said the closure of the stations was a resource issue and he pointed out that there is huge value in having dedicated gardaí working across a region as people can easily identify them.
Dep Stanley told the meeting that Laois-Offaly is way below the national average for the number of gardaí allocated, which is of huge concern. He said that the national figure is one garda for every 340 people, but here in Laois-Offaly it is one garda for every 536. He said this figure is lower than most western European countries, where the average is one police officer for every 330 - 340 people.
Dep Stanley also pointed out that, as there are a number of prisons in the town of Portlaoise, there is a further significant pull on garda resources.
Garda Chief Superintendant John Scanlon said he wanted to assure the public that the gardaí are going to drive forward a policing service with the resources they have.
“I accept there are vulnerable communities in the county,” said Chief Supt Scanlon, who told the assembled county councillors and community representatives that gardaí will work closely with Community Alert groups to monitor crime.
“Each Community Alert group will have a nominated garda... the garda won’t be working 24/7 but they’ll have responsibility for an area,” he said.
Dep Stanley suggested that the committee write a letter to the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner, asking that the recruitment ban on gardaí be relaxed.
“The situation will get worse,” Dep Stanley warned.