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Ó Snodaigh to discuss community policing with Department of Justice

5 March, 2008

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh will meet the Department of Justice Head of Crime Division Brendan Callahan this afternoon to discuss the role of Joint Policing Committees in community policing and the fight against crime.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Sinn Féin believes that Joint Policing Committees can play a positive role in building relationships between the community and the Gardaí thus helping to tackle anti-social behaviour, low level crime and drug and gun crime. It is for this reason that we proposed the establishment of the committees.

"However, we have some concerns regarding the running of the current committees, the funding for them and the role out of the 85 new committees. I will be raising these concerns with the head of the Crime Division at the Department of Justice today.

"There is no mention of Joint Policing Committees in Budget 2008. Under Budget 2007 the 29 pilot Joint Policing Committees got a total of €500,000 but now the pilot phase is over and a total of 114 JPCs are to be established - where's the money? Given the increase in the number of Committees surely the budget should be increased substantially.

"One of the Joint Policing Committees' statutory obligations it to arrange and host public meetings concerning matters affecting the policing of the local authority's administrative area. However, while some areas have held public meetings most have refused point blank with varying excuses including lack of resources.

"I will be asking the Department of Justice to ensure that all Joint Policing Committees live up to their obligations to hold public meetings around local policing issues.

"Joint Policing Committees are also obliged to assist the Gardaí in the formulation of local policing plans. However this hasn't worked in practice mostly due to the fact that some Gardaí simply presented their plans to the Committees as a fait accompli while in some areas the JPCs haven't even seen this years plan.

"Again I will be asking the Department to ensure that all Garda Divisions co-operate with the Joint Policing Committees in the drafting of local policing plans.

"Finally I will address the issue of the make up of the Committees putting a strong emphasis on the need for a strong community and voluntary sector representation on the committees." ENDS

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