Fall in crimes solved by Garda of ‘significant’ and ‘considerable’ concern

Policing Authority reveals 20 per cent fall in number of motorists caught speeding last year despite 150 more personnel

 The Policing Authority was ‘disappointed with the level of achievement’ by the Garda in roads policing last year. Photograph: Alan Betson

The Policing Authority was ‘disappointed with the level of achievement’ by the Garda in roads policing last year. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The continuing decrease in the number of crimes being solved by the Garda was now of “significant” and “considerable” concern, the Policing Authority has said.

It also revealed there was a 20 per cent fall in the number of motorists caught speeding last year despite 150 more personnel and other resources allocated to the Garda Roads Policing Unit.

Such was the concern the additional resources had not resulted in more drivers being caught when breaking the law that the productivity of individual gardaí on road policing duty was now being tracked, the authority noted.

In its Assessment of Policing Performance 2018, published on Thursday, the watchdog body explained that when the “level of work return” that was anticipated with roads policing did not materialise “it prompted the development of an IT solution that tracks work return down to individual level”.

This move could result in accusations that gardaí who work in roads policing are under pressure to meet enforcement quotas.

The authority said the decommissioning of Garda speed detection vans last year had contributed to the overall decline in speeding detections, which reached 136,000 last year according to the Garda.

Fatalities and serious injury

In 2018 there were 149 fatalities on the roads, the lowest level since records began. The authority welcomed this, but added the target had been to reduce deaths to 136 at most.

The authority was also concerned at an increase in the number of road collisions resulting in serious injury.

The Road Safety Authority had set a target for fewer than 380 serious injuries on the roads last year. However, some 998 were recorded, up from “over 700” in each of the previous two years.

It was “an area of concern” for the authority that the Garda did not appear to be recording serious injury collisions in the same way the RSA did. The Garda figures did not match other data in this area, such as numbers of hospital admissions.

Detections

Overall the Policing Authority was “disappointed with the level of achievement” by the Garda in roads policing last year.

It was also concerned at the continuing reduction in the number of crimes being detected, or solved, by the Garda. Detections, it said, had been falling since “at least 2010”.

“The fall in detections across all featured categories has been a significant source of concern,” it said.

“Detections reflect the organisation’s capacity to solve crime and are imperative in maintaining public confidence in the organisation.”

For example, while assaults were increasing, detections of assaults were falling. And there was no clear plan to address this pattern.

The authority was also unconvinced with the Garda’s explanation that assaults were increasing because the night-time economy was recovering in line with the Republic’s general economic recovery.

It believed there were other, more varied, factors at play.