Number of gardaí dedicated to roads policing drops by 8%

Reduction comes despite increase in overall size of the force

Official figures show the number of officers attached to Garda Roads Policing Units around the country has decreased from 744 since December 2018 to 687 by the end of June. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Official figures show the number of officers attached to Garda Roads Policing Units around the country has decreased from 744 since December 2018 to 687 by the end of June. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The number of gardaí dedicated to roads policing has fallen by 8 per cent since the start of the year, despite an increase in the overall size of the force.

Official figures show the number of officers attached to Garda Roads Policing Units around the country has decreased from 744 since December 2018 to 687 by the end of June.

Over the same period the total strength of the force grew by almost 2 per cent to 14,276.

The reduction by 57 in the number of gardaí­ assigned to enforcement of road traffic legislation will further raise concerns that road safety is no longer considered a priority by senior gardaí.

Last week the Road Safety Authority said it remained “very concerned” about the function of roads policing and the implications for road safety in the new structure of the force announced by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock said it viewed the reform of the organisation as “effectively the downgrading of road safety” as it was omitted as one of four key focus areas for gardaí­ at an operational level.

The latest figures show 24 of the country’s 29 Roads Policing Units have experienced reduced staffing levels since the start of the year with five fewer gardaí­ in the units in Dublin West and Waterford. The units in Cork City, Sligo/Leitrim and Dublin Traffic have each lost four gardaí during 2019.

Only one unit, Cork West, recorded an increase in the size of the unit – up one to 23.

The overall number of gardaí­ dedicated to roads policing fell continuously from about 1,200 in 2008 to as low as 623 in 2017 before increasing again last year for the first time in almost a decade.

A Garda representative said an extra 146 gardaí­ were assigned to units nationwide in 2018 following a selection competition to increase the strength of Roads Policing Units which began in 2017.

They added that a further competition commenced in February and it was envisaged that there would be an increase in the number of gardaí­ attached to Roads Policing Units by the end of the year.