Gardaí refuse 60% of requests to escort criminals

Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins says figures are ‘completely unacceptable’

 

Gardaí turned down 60 per cent of Irish Prison Service (IPS) requests for armed escorts for criminals, according to newly-released information.

Responding to a question submitted by Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson Niall Collins, IPS management disclosed that of 166 requests made in relation to armed escorts for inmates being transported outside prisons, 97 were rejected.

Reasons were not provided for the refusals.

Mr Collins, a TD for Limerick, described the figures as “completely unacceptable” and said they were reflective of a culture of cuts within An Garda Síochána.

“It is shocking to think that so many violent prisoners are being transported through our streets without an armed guard.

“We cannot allow a situation where such dangerous and violent criminals can run free because the resources aren’t there for safe and secure transportation.

“The repercussions of not providing adequate security when transporting violent criminals through our communities are far too serious. I am calling on the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner to immediately address this problem,” he said.

He also cited the recent escape of Derek Brockwell, who stabbed two prison officers before fleeing custody during a hospital trip, as an example of the dangers posed by lax security practices.

That incident occurred a number of weeks after convicted armed robber Lee McDonnell forced his way out of a prison van when the drivers stopped to buy chips. Both men were later detained and returned to custody.

Gardaí have experienced a drastic reduction in requests for armed escorts in recent years as banks opt not to pay for Garda security for cash-in-transit vans.