Almost 60 per cent of Garda stations are open for three hours or less Monday to Friday while many are closed at the weekend, an analysis of the force’s station directory shows.
The number of Garda stations operating across the State has decreased by 20 per cent since 2011 when there were 703 stations open.
Of those still operating, many have had their opening hours significantly reduced under a programme of rationalisation. Just over a fifth of all stations are now open for 24 hours, the analysis of the force’s online directory also shows.
Of the 564 stations operating in the State, 85 per cent (477) have fixed opening hours from Monday to Friday.
Eighty-seven stations (15 per cent) have hours listed as “varies” or are open only two or three days per week; or vary their opening hours from two to three hours depending on the day. The opening hours of these 87 stations depend on Garda members’ availability and the nature of their roster. Five of the stations are closed every day but some of these, such as Ahascragh in Co Galway, will open by appointment.
Of the stations with fixed hours each week day, more than half (58 per cent) are open for three hours or less.
Weekends see a number of stations close completely, particularly on Sundays. On Saturdays, just 5 per cent of stations are closed but this jumps on Sundays when almost 30 per cent of stations are closed.
Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of all Garda stations are open 24 hours every day, the greatest number in Dublin. The divisions of Cork west and Kilkenny/Carlow have the lowest number of Garda stations open 24 hours every day at just 12 per cent. Of the stations that are not open 24 hours per day, the majority do not have opening hours past 6pm.
The analysis shows just three Garda divisions have all of their stations open every day of the week, for at least some hours – Sligo/Leitrim, Kildare and Dublin. In Westmeath, only two of its 13 stations have fixed hours – Athlone and Mullingar, which are open 24 hours – while the other 11 all have variable hours. In Meath, 10 of its 16 stations have variable hours.
The Garda budget has come under increasing pressure over the last number of years. The Department of Justice has previously said the key objective of station closures “was to promote the more efficient and effective deployment of resources rather than to secure modest cash savings”.
Commenting on the limited opening hours of stations, a Garda spokesman said: “Local Garda management closely monitors the allocation of all resources in the context of crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a district, divisional and regional level, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.
“Senior Garda management is satisfied that an adequate policing service continues to be delivered and that current structures in place meet the requirement to deliver an effective and efficient policing service to the community. This situation is continually reviewed.”