Garda summonses down 22% on last year
Decline will fuel suspicions of a link to the Garda campaign against proposed pay cuts
Figures compiled by the Courts Service show summonses issued between January and March fell from 101,002 to 78,578; a decline of 22 per cent. Photograph: Frank Miller
There was a sharp fall in the number of summonses issued by gardaí in the first three months of this year, figures released to The Irish Times reveal.
The overall decline of 22 per cent on the same period in 2012 – a reversal of the recent trend – will fuel suspicions of a link to the Garda campaign against proposed pay cuts.
Figures compiled by the Courts Service show summonses issued between January and March fell from 101,002 to 78,578; a decline of 22 per cent. The trend was broadly consistent across the country, with 33 out of 40 court offices recording a fall. In Cork, the decrease was 25 per cent and in Kilkenny 41 per cent. In the Dublin metropolitan district it was 22 per cent.
Summonses are issued through an automated system in the District Court after a complaint has been made against an individual by a Garda. They are usually issued in less serious cases where it is not considered necessary to arrest someone to guarantee their appearance in court. Between 2011 and 2012, the number of summonses issued in the January to March period was steady, rising by just 1 per cent.
Asked to comment on the striking decline so far this year, the Department of Justice said it was a matter for Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. A Garda spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment before the force had had a chance to examine the figures.
Link to cuts?
Garda sources believe the number of summonses has declined for various reasons.The falling crime rate accounts for some of the decrease, with lower Garda numbers and slashed overtime budgets also resulting in fewer gardaí on the beat and a fall in detecting crime.
However, many gardaí believe morale has fallen to such an extent that some members are exercising their discretion not to prosecute people for some offences, especially road traffic offences. “It’s hard to say how many [gardaí] are using their discretion, but some of them would definitely see it as a protest against the State,” said one source.
Tensions have been rising between Garda representative groups and the Government over proposed cuts to pay and allowances. The Garda Representative Association, which represents 11,200 rank and file gardaí in the 13,400-strong force, recently approved a no-confidence motion in Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.