A community policing seminar was told last week that community support and engagement is vital in crime prevention and crime detection.
Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan told Community Watch and Neighbourhood Watch representatives from across the county that there are 360 gardai in the division working on their behalf.
“But we also need your eyes and ears”, he told a packed attendance in St Patrick’s College in Thurles.
Tipperary Division Chief Superintendent Catherine Kehoe also stressed the need for the public’s support in their fight against crime as gardai across a range of community initiatives outlined the work they are involved in.
Chief Supdt. Kehoe pointed out that crime in the division was down five per cent with crime detection at 38%, figures that compared favourably with the national average, but the number of fatalites in road accidents on Tipperary roads was a concern.
“We have initiatives to prevent these fatalities so please be patient if you are delayed or disrupted by garda checkpoints”, she remarked.
At the seminar presentations were made to community activists in each garda district for work on behalf of the community. The recipients were nominated by local gardai with both Assistant Commissioner Nolan and Chief Supdt Kehoe stressing the vital role that these people played in assisting the gardai in their work.
Representatives from virtually every area in the county attended the seminar to hear details on how Tipperary gardai tackle crime and deal with victims - and how the public play such a vital role in making it a partnership.
One partnership that is working very effectively is the link-up between the garda and Muintir na Tire in the operation of Community Watch.
Community Alert Development Officer Margaret Quinn paid warm tribut to those ‘slugging it out on behalf of your communities” to keep them safe but she also urged them to ‘never take your eye off the ball’ because crime prevention was so vital.
Assistant Commissioner Nolan remarked that crime figures are down in virtually every category - burglary, property crime, public order, criminal damage and assault - but that there were still awful crimes and outrages committed against people and it was their priority to continue their work and to put crime prevention at the top of their list.
He stressed the importance of victim support to the gardai, pointing out that a new Victim Support service has been piloted in two Tipperary districts and would eventually be rolled out to the rest of the county and country with dedicated gardai working in those offices.
And he said community support and engagement is vital to all the work carried out by the gardai already and planned for the future. “We can do a lot with your support. There were 150 homes not broken into this year that might have been before without your help. You should all be proud of that”, he said.
He also called for community support in tackling drug crime and cutting down on road fatalities. “We will challenge the existence of drugs in every town and every community. We will reduce the scourge of drugs but we need your eyes and ears to help us”, he said.
And in relation to road safety, he said too many people die on Tipperary roads and reducing that statistic is a priority in the division.
Details of various garda services and activities were outlined at the seminar by members of the force directly involved in the scheme.
Garda Carol O’Leary from Cashel spoke on Community Relations; Garda Annette Connolly gave details of the School Programme and Cyber Crime Alert; Detective Sergeant Seamus Maher from Clonmel outlined the operation of the Drugs Strategy and Awareness programme with eight dedicated gardai in the division; Pat Harrington brought along a garda dog as he explained the workings of the Dog Unit; Sergt Tom O’Dwyer, who heads up the Crime Prevention Office, spoke of his work; Regina McCarthy of the Traffic Corps gave an insight into the work of the units based in Thurles and Cahir; Michelle Tierney spoke on Text Alert; Jacinta Phelan expanded on the new ‘Know Your Patch’ scheme which assigns dedicated community gardai to particular areas; while Sergeant Susan O’Brien, who was also MC for the event, explained the workings of the Victim Support service which is set to become an integral part of garda operations.