Investigation: Where and how gardaí are stationed around the country

Catherine Murphy TD says an imbalance is leaving some rural areas dangerously exposed to criminality

Investigation: Where and how gardaí are stationed around the country

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Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy is calling for a radical redistribution of gardaí around the country.

She says an imbalance is leaving some rural areas dangerously exposed to criminality.

The Kildare TD also believes that fewer Garda resources is leading to under-reporting of crime statistics.

Deputy Murphy's comments follow a Newstalk Breakfast investigation into where and how gardaí are stationed around the country.

Reporter Kieran Cuddihy described the situation as a 'geographical lottery' in terms of the number of gardaí per capita in each division, as well as the number of gardaí per crime.

You can see a breakdown of the crimes per garda in each region below, based on 2015 figures. The national average, excluding Dublin, is 17.

Dublin’s north inner-city is an outlier. It has a huge number of gardaí but also a huge crime rate - a trend that can be found in most capital cities.

Outside of Dublin, Kildare stands out with only one guard for every 675 people. That compares to Westmeath, where there is one for every 375 people.

Counties such as Meath, Wexford, Laois, Offaly and Limerick are also suffering due to a lack of garda resources.

Louth has good overall number of gardaí but a high crime rate - meaning that their workload is much higher than some of their colleagues around the country.

Robbie Peelo is a serving guard in the Louth division and a member of the Garda Representative Association (GRA).

"We were told when they reduced the opening hours of stations, that it wouldn't affect policing along the border [...] But it did," he told Kieran. 

In a statement, the Justice Department said: "The Programme for Government [...] includes a commitment to continue the ongoing accelerated Garda recruitment programme with a view to increasing Garda numbers to 15,000.

"The Tánaiste is concerned that more rapid progress be made to reach the target of 15,000 and in this regard Department officials are engaging with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to increasing the planned annual intake this year and in coming years." 

Deputy Murphy says her county of Kildare is the only one which does not have a community guard.

"If you lose visibility, you lose out on a more proactive type of policing," she said.

"It's all reactive to the kind of crimes that are reported, rather than preventing crime, for example."