Garda drugs unit reduced by 50%

The long-rumoured cut in the Waterford Garda Drugs unit has proven to be more than idle conjecture.

The long-rumoured cut in the Waterford Garda Drugs unit has proven to be more than idle conjecture.

Waterford’s drugs unit has seen its staffing levels cut by 50 per cent over the last four years.

During the same period, controlled drug offences in the Waterford Garda division fell by almost 44%, a clear indication of the catastrophic effect that cutbacks to policing services are having on local detection rates.

Information released in a parliamentary question last week cited a reduction in Waterford Garda Station’s dedicated drugs unit from 10 Gardaí in 2011 to five in 2014.

Meanwhile, according to Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures for controlled drugs offences, such offences in Waterford fell from 338 in the first six months of 2011 to 311 in the same period of 2012, 215 offences in 2013 and 191 in the first half of 2014.

Sources say the cuts to manpower are severely hampering both surveillance and search operations in Waterford.

Nationally, drug unit personnel has dropped from 361 in 2011 to 253 in 2014 and many regional drugs units around the country are now operating with a handful of members following years of cuts. A depletion of resources has resulted in many former drug squad Gardaí now performing other detective duties

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