Garda Traffic Corps almost halved from peak of 1,200 officers

Figure comes as number of road fatalities so far this year equals total for last year

The corps’ complement peaked at 1,200 in 2009 as the then government attempted to reduce fatal collisions on the State’s roads. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The corps’ complement peaked at 1,200 in 2009 as the then government attempted to reduce fatal collisions on the State’s roads. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

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The strength of the Garda Traffic Corps has fallen from its peak of around 1,200 to 681 as of the end of September.

The information comes as the number of road deaths for this year rose to 162, the same as the total number of road fatalities in 2015.

In reply to a parliamentary question by Independent TD for Dublin Bay North Tommy Broughan, Minster for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald said as of September 30th, the strength of the traffic corps stood at 688 members.

In a statement to The Irish Times on Friday a Garda spokesman said the corps’ strength was lower again, at 681 officers.

The Garda statement said “every Member of An Garda Síochána is committed to reducing the number and severity of road collisions.

“We are committed to educating all road users in their attitudes and behaviour and when necessary, detecting and intercepting dangerous drivers and those who refuse to comply with road traffic laws.”

The corps’ complement peaked at around 1,200 in 2009 as the then government attempted to reduce fatal collisions on the State’s roads. However, it has fallen steadily since as has the overall strength of the force.

The main responsibility of corps is to significantly reduce the incidence of fatal and serious injuries and improve road safety.

Ms Fitzgerald said on Wednesday funding has been provided for 2017 for the recruitment of 800 recruits and up to 500 civilians “to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána.”

“No doubt the Traffic Corps, like all divisions and policing activities will benefit from this accelerated recruitment which is complemented by substantial investment in resources across the board for An Garda Síochána,” she said.

Susan Gray, founder of road safety group Parc, said the fall in the falling number of officers in the traffic corps was very disappointing and reflective of the decline in road safety as a political priority.

“The simple fact is enforcement is key when it comes to road safety and we all know enforcement on the roads is declining. The pub car parks are full again at night and tragically we have already exceeded the number of fatalities for all of last year. It is simply not good enough.”

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