Move against antisocial acts on public transport sees only 65 charges this year

Vast majority of incidents logged under Operation Saul are classed as ‘non-crimes’

An operation to tackle antisocial behaviour on public transport has resulted in only 65 criminal charges despite thousands of incidents being logged on the Garda Pulse system.

In January this year, the Garda launched Operation Saul to tackle crime on public transport, in a move which has seen both covert and overt patrols on Luas, Dart and bus services.

The Department of Justice has revealed that between the end of January and the end of June this year, 3,061 incidents associated with the operation were recorded on the Pulse system.

Of these, 2,979 were classified as non-crime and 82 were crimes which are either under active investigation or have resulted in the accused person appearing before the criminal courts.


A total of 65 charges have been preferred under the operation so far, as well as a small number of adult cautions and juvenile referrals.

Non-crime incidents are those which gardaí are called to but do not meet the criteria of being registered or investigated as a crime.

In the context of public transport, they could include unruly or loud behaviour that is not deemed to meet the threshold of a public-order crime. A third party may also report their suspicions that a crime has been committed but no evidence of criminal behaviour is found.

Non-crime incidents could also include reports that members of the public felt in fear or threatened, though the behaviour they were concerned about did not come to pass or was not criminal in nature. Garda call-outs to investigate public transport users who are distressed or intoxicated could also be recorded as non-crime incidents.

The information was supplied by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny.

Ms McEntee said that the aim of the operation was to “provide a safe environment for commuters utilising public transport services in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) together with reassuring the citizens, visitors and the business community in Dublin that it is a safe place in which to visit, socialise, conduct business and enjoy all its amenities.”

The operation is in place in the South Central, North Central and South Divisions of Dublin but plans are now under way to extend this operation to the entire Dublin Metropolitan Region.

As part of Operation Saul, gardaí perform high-visibility patrols of the Luas, Dart and various bus services to prevent and detect antisocial behaviour and public-order offences.

Ms McEntee said they deal with any public-order issues through a “zero-tolerance approach”.

Gardaí also issue antisocial behaviour orders and fixed-charge penalty notices for certain offences, as well as arrests in some instances.

All patrols under Operation Saul are recorded with the superintendent and communications centre.

The Minister said that quarterly meetings take place between members of An Garda Síochána in each division in the DMR to look at any issues that emerge on public transport.

“In partnership with partner agencies, An Garda Síochána deployed on duties under Operation Saul will achieve a common goal of making this service safe,” she said.

She also pointed towards a separate operation, Operation Twin Track, which took place in late July.

In this operation, gardaí patrolled the Dart, Luas and eight intercity rail routes to detect antisocial behaviour.

High-visibility patrolling operated between 3pm and 11pm on the Dart, Luas and intercity routes in the divisions of Mayo, Galway, Sligo and Roscommon/Leitrim, Kildare, Wicklow and Wexford, Limerick and Tipperary, Cork city north and Cork city west.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times