Number of gardaí injured on duty increases to 660 in 2016

Bites, grazes and bruises most common injuries sustained by gardaí, says GRA

The number of gardaí injured in the course of duty has significantly increased in the last five years. Stock photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The number of gardaí injured in the course of duty has significantly increased in the last five years. Stock photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

The number of gardaí injured in the course of duty has significantly increased in the last five years, according to figures from the Department of Justice.

Last year 660 gardaí were injured while of duty, up from 406 in 2012. The figures have steadily increased over the past five years, with 518 gardaí injured in 2013, and 637 in 2015.

Figures for this year up to July 17th show 293 gardaí have been injured while working. The figures were obtained by Bernard Durkan TD in a parliamentary question to the Department of Justice.

The most recent figures represent a near doubling of the number of gardaí injured while working compared 2009, where 358 gardaí were recorded as being injured in the year.

Responding to Mr Durkan, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said Garda officers “may be injured on duty in different circumstances, some of which may be accidental while others may be as a result of a criminal action”.

Since 2007 five members of An Gárda Síochána have lost their lives in the course of their duty, including Garda Adrian Donohoe, who was shot dead in January 2013 while on a cash escort near Dundalk, Co Louth.

A spokesman for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said they believe the figures “grossly underestimate assaults that frontline, individual Garda suffer on a daily basis”.

“Bites, grazes, and bruising are the most common injuries suffered by gardaí, followed by sprains, strains, closed fractures and open wounds” the spokesman said.

The rank and file Garda representative group said 526 gardaí have been injured in road traffic collisions, and 122 in manual handling incidents since 2012.

In the years following the economic recession the reduced number of frontline Garda contributed to members taking on larger workloads, which may have “contributed to a rise in attacks and subsequent injuries,” according to the GRA spokesman.

The spokesman said detailed data in relation to assaults and injuries sustained by Garda members, and the prosecution rate for those who commit assaults on gardaí is not collected by Garda management.

A spokesperson for the Garda was not available to comment on the figures at the time of publication.

Tasers

The GRA spokesman said gardaí should be provided with body cameras to record incidents where members of the force are assaulted or injured.

The police force should also be issued and trained to use non-lethal tasers, to combat the threat of injury from an individual with a knife or weapon.

“Currently gardaí are a helpless, slow moving bulls-eye target for any criminal with an implement, knife or gun” the GRA spokesman said.

The representative body are calling for a greater provision of bulletproof vests for gardaí.

“Unarmed gardaí protecting feud targets for example, have been denied their repeated requests for updated bulletproof vests,” the spokesman said.

“Updated and dual function, knife and ballistic proof vests, must now be issued to all front-line gardaí if further injury or even death, is to be prevented,” he added.

In total 5,968 incidents have been recorded where gardaí were injured while carrying out their duties since 2005.