Question posed by Alan Kelly:
131. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of arrests and convictions that were recorded in the recent Operation Thor carried out by An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Link to Question: HERE
Answer by Charlie Flanagan:
As the Deputy will be aware, since its inception in November 2015, there has been concentrated activity under Operation Thor which is reflected in the implementation of over 83,260 targeted checkpoints nationwide and 28,633 searches carried out. There have also been in the region of 5,541 arrests and 6,156 charges covering a range of offences which, in addition to burglary, have included handling stolen property, possession of firearms and drugs offences.
It is also encouraging to note that burglary figures in particular have shown a significant downward trend. The CSO official recorded crime statistics for Q4 of 2016 show a30% decrease in burglary for the twelve months of 2016 when compared to the same period in 2015 – which parallels the implementation of Operation Thor.
The Government made it a particular priority to strengthen our legislative provisions through the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Act2015 which is targeted at repeat burglars who have previous convictions and who are charged with multiple offences of residential burglary. I am very pleased that this new legislation is now available to support the work which is being carried out by An Garda Síochána under Operation Thor.
Underpinning all of these measures is the Government’s commitment to Garda recruitment, ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. The Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government underlines the need for close engagement between An Garda Síochána and local communities and this is an essential feature of the strong community policing ethos which has long been central to policing in this jurisdiction. The Deputy will also be aware that as part of the overall strategy to oppose criminality, the Garda authorities pursue a range of partnerships with community stakeholders, including the farming organisations. There are a range of partnership initiatives which have been established between An Garda Síochána and important rural-based organisations such as the Irish Farmers Association, Muintir na Tire and other rural community organisations, including the well established Community Alert Programme, the ongoing work of the Metal Theft Forum, the Crimestoppers campaign highlighting the Theft of Livestock, the Theftstop initiative in relation to farm equipment, and the highly successful Garda Text Alert Scheme.