Shatter defends station closures
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has defended the closure of 95 Garda stations around the country today, saying local stations "do not act as a deterrent to burglaries".
The closures, which come as part of the Garda District and Station Consolidation Programme announced last year, would free up well-trained members of the force to engage in frontline policing and was not a cost saving measure, the Minister insisted.
"The amount of money that would be saved in respect of the individual stations for heating and light would be relatively small in the context of the overall Garda budget of €1.4 billion per year," he told RTÉ Radio. "What this is about is freeing up members of the force to engage in frontline policing. These closures will result in 61,000 additional patrol hours being available for An Garda Síochána to engage directly in community policing, crime prevention, and crime detection."
In total, 100 Garda stations will close in 2013. Along with the closures, seven Garda stations will have reduced operating hours and the 28 Garda districts are being amalgamated into 14.
Mr Shatter said he understood the concerns local communities had about the closures, but many of the stations in rural areas were only open for a few hours every morning, so the patrol car called out in the middle of the night would not have come from that station anyway.
The interactive graphic below shows crime figures for 2011 in the areas where a Garda station is closing.