Serious crime in Waterford on par with national average
Divisional statistics for 2012 revealed in detailed Garda Inspectorate Report
Crimes classified as serious by An Garda Síochána amounted to four per cent of all offences reported in the Waterford Division during 2012, according to the Garda Síochána Inspectorate Crime Ivestigation Report published on Tuesday last.
This level, which also reflected the national average, underlined the assertion made by Waterford’s civic leaders recently that the city has “the lowest rate of recorded crime of any comparably sized urban centre in the country”.
The report adds: “With regards to crime investigations, Kildare and Waterford managed more recorded crimes per member than the other five divisions (namely two in Dublin, Donegal, Kildare, Limerick and Mayo).”
Regarding all recorded crimes per 100,000 in 2012, the Waterford Division was the fifth busiest of the 28 Divisions in the State, exceeding the 6,000 mark (the four busiest Divisions were Dublin North Central, Dublin South Central, Dublin West and Limerick).
For the record, the average recorded crime figure across all 28 divisions came in at just over 5,000.
Encouragingly, when it came to crime detection rates, Waterford topped the table of the aforementioned seven divisions with a figure of 65 per cent, considerably above the national average of 11 per cent.
Breaking down those recorded detection rates across a range of offences as identified by the force’s PULSE system, its findings revealed the following figures: Assault (75 per cent), Burglary (30 per cent), Robbery (84 per cent) Theft from Person (37 per cent) and Theft from Motor Vehicle (20 per cent).
In relation to serious crime incidents per Detective Garda, the 13 incidents recorded in Waterford in 2012 exceeded the national average of five.
With respect to the deployment of Detectives and Detective Aides, 25 Detectives (and no Detective Aides) were availed of in the Waterford Division, representing nine per cent of divisional resources for the year in question.
And on a per officer basis according to PULSE, Waterford officers handled 59 non-crime incidents, 27 crime offences and 11 ‘other incidents’.
The Inspectorate notes that between October 2011 and October 2012, the Waterford Garda Division received 12,539 ‘999′ calls, amounting to a monthly average of 1044 calls.
This placed Waterford in 11th place on a grid detailing emergency calls made to 23 different Garda Divisions in the State, with monthly calls to Kilkenny/Carlow, Tipperary and Wexford coming in at 1201, 1061 and 1077 respectively.
Waterford was also one of four Divisions where pilot programmes in Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) had been initially rolled out (Limerick, Galway and Cork were the others), a system which records details of all emergency and non-emergency calls.
“Divisions without CAD use paper based systems for recording calls received,” the report states.
“The Garda Síochána would like to roll out CAD across all regions and would eventually like to move towards a number of regional control rooms. The Inspectorate is aware that the Garda Síochána has made a business case to try to secure funding for a CAD system for all divisions.”
The Inspectorate also noted that eight Gardaí in the Waterford Division had a community brief, adding that “there is no clear role or job description for community police officers. The Inspectorate found that some members see their role as community engagement, not enforcement, whilst other community gardaí are investigating the full range of criminal offences”.
Waterford, the report reveals, is also one of a “small number of garda divisions” which is operating a Victims’ Office “with dedicated staff that provide a single point of contact for victims of crime…
“In Waterford, the unit has taken on the role of sending garda letters to victims and contacting them by telephone to provide an update on crime investigations and to inform victims of the various support agencies which can provide support. Perhaps most importantly, the unit updates victims with developments in cases.”
An assessment of Waterford Garda Station’s six cells by the Inspectorate prompted the following comments: “3,500 detained persons per year, due for refurbishment, no CCTV, all cells covered in graffiti, two interview rooms upstairs, insecure area, no show facilities (and an) AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) livescan machine.”
In the wake of last Tuesday’s report, it was confirmed that the cells at Waterford Garda Station have been refurbished since the Inspectorate’s visit.
During 2012, 870 persons were detained in Garda custody within the Waterford Division, with 466 fingerprints taken (representing 54 per cent of all detainees).
Some 559 were detained in the Kilkenny/Carlow Division (with 365 fingerprints taken) while 694 and 461 were placed into custody in Tipperary and Wexford respectively (with 211 and 222 fingerprints taken).
The Garda Inspectorate’s review of the force’s crime investigation process began in July 2012, and included a day-to-day review of the work of Garda staff.
Last May, in the wake of the Guerin Report’s publication, the Inspectorate’s crime investigation inspection brief was expanded by new Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to address “managerial, operational and procedural concerns” identified in the report.
Reacting to the publication of the report, Minister Fitzgerald said: “The Inspectorate has found a police service in need of modernisation of its crime investigation operational and support infrastructure.
“The report identifies the absence of up-to-date dispatch technology as well as deficiencies in practices, supervision and governance relating to the recording, classification and investigation of crime.
“The report examines the current system for counting and categorising recorded crime and the level of recorded detections for those crimes; and highlights concerns in this area…
“While rightly unsparing in its criticisms in relation to identified inadequacies, it also recognises that the systemic challenges and deficiencies identified during the inspection are not unique to An Garda Síochána but are common right throughout the world in policing services.”
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