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What should be the Garda priorities? July 4, 2012

Posted by Tomboktu in Crime, Inequality, Justice, Society.

An Garda Síochána is conducting a public consultation as part of its preparation of a three-year strategy for 2013–2015. Have a look at how they frame the discussion with the first question in the consultation [the Gardaí use drop-down boxes with the numbers for ranking, but they don’t transalte to CLR’s website]:

An Garda Síochána has limited resources and is faced with a wide range of demands. In your opinion, what priority should An Garda Síochána give to the following policing areas? (Rank in order of priority – 1 being most important and 10 being least important. Each number can only be used once.)

  • Drugs (including importing, selling and taking drugs)
  • Public Order (for example, tackling drunkenness or rowdiness as well as anti-social behaviour)
  • Hate crimes (for example, targeting someone based on their race or sexuality)
  • Ensuring road safety (for example, preventing serious and fatal collisions, young people racing around in car etc)
  • Violent crimes (such as assaults rape, sexual assaults, and domestic violence)
  • Property crime (such as burglaries, thefts and robberies)
  • Criminal damage (for example, damage against your property, vehicle or graffiti)
  • Fraud (for example, computer and telephone scams or someone else using your identity without your knowledge)
  • Financial crimes committed by those working in businesses and large corporations.
  • Human Trafficking (for purposes of labour or sexual exploitation)
  • Now, even leaving aside the question of precisely how the responses to a public consultation will affect the choices the Gardaí make for priority areas (if, oh, 400,000 responses tell them they should make hate crimes based on race or sexuality the first priority, and the next highest priority is in the 100s of responses, will that put it to the top of the list?), isn’t that opening question just weird?

    Financial crimes presented as a separate category from fraud. And young people racing around in car — is it different when middle-aged people do it? All of the compenents of the drug trade lumped together without distinguishing those with power in the trade from those without. Anti-social behaviour — when it is not a deliberate political action — would seem to me to always be wrong, but drunkeness — if I don’t get rowdy or drive a vehicle — might not be, but the Gardaí have put them in the same category.

    I would like to know how they rank crimes where there are large numbers of potential and articulate “direct” victims (public order and property crime, for example) against crimes where the victims may indirect (the gardaí’s ‘financial crimes’) or smaller in number (hate crimes) or vulnerable (trafficking). And how do you rank any of the crime categories against the more-than-just-crime issue of road safety?

    I live in an area where the Chief Superintendent has gone beyond the legal requirements for county-based Garda Joint Policing Committees and holds quarterly meetings with residents’ associations and other local community groups in each of the areas covered by the individual stations across the Division. And he takes seriously the two questions of listening to concerns raised and reporting back. [Complaints about dangerous parking outside seven schools in the school rush-hours resulted in this response at the following meeting: They had checked the issue at all schools, and in two cases they agreed that the situation was dangerous, but in the others, just an inconvenience for a short period. They met the two school principals, and a letter went out to all parents at the two schools. A week later, some garda shifts were changed to have officers in place at both rush hours — that week, the gardaí spoke to drivers who tried to looked like they intended to park dangerously, told them to move on, and reminded the parents of the letter. The following week, the officers started issuing tickets, and 70 were issued in a month.]

    At one of the meetings last year, the Superintendent presented statistics on garda activity in the station’s area. Among the data on speeding traps set up, speeding offences detected, drunk and disorderly outside pubs, burlaries, damage to property, etc. were two tables on drugs operations. One operation was implemented by the local drugs squad, and targeted local dealers. The other was an operation implemented by ‘beat’ and community gardaí and was targetted at the buyers. Up went a table showing the number of stops and searches in public spaces in the hunt to catch users with stock for their own use. That number over a year was in the high hundreds — I think it was between 700 and 800. But the total number of detections was in two digits. I made myself unpopular with a pair of questions: First, was it an effective use of resurces to stop and search so many people with so little crime detected for it? Second, what mechanisms did they have to ensure that the stops and searches did not work to alienating young men from the disadvantaged estates in the station’s area?

    The current Garda national questionnaire does provide space to expalin your views, although some of the options you get appear to depend on the choices you make in previous questions. It would seem to be a bit difficult, but possible, to use the survey to present the kind of conerns I raised at the meeting. But I am minded to ignore some of the questions and say what I want to say anyway.

    And in fairness, it is refreshing to get the opportunity to say that financial crimes need a bit more profile in the Gardaí’s work, although I am deeply uncomfortable having to rank that ahead or behind concerns like human trafficking or hate crimes.

    If you would like to add your views, mosey on over to http://www.garda.ie/Controller.aspx?Page=9358


    1. James - July 5, 2012

    The priority of the gardai should be to stop beating up the people of Rossport. They should also try (difficult as it may be for them) to stop murdering those in garda custody. They might also consider not beating up students when they are protesting.


    Martin Hartigan - July 6, 2012

    You could do with a good hiding!

    Might concentrate your mind, if any!


    James. - July 6, 2012

    I hope you suffer the same fate as Michael Padden. That’d be nice. Brown nosing the gardai isn’t intelligent. You’re not dumb – the gardai are beyond corrupt. Or Ciaran Jones – that’d be nice too. Enjoy the weekend.


    2. AlanRouge - July 5, 2012

    It’s all about stats ain’t it? It reminds me of The Wire.


    3. Bartley - July 5, 2012

    … but the Gardaí have put them in the same category.

    Sounds like the Garda deserves props for raising awareness on hate crimes and trafficking.

    Pedantic grammar point: the organization itself should always be referred to in the singular (styled as the Garda, An Garda, or An Garda Síochána in all official correspondence).

    Whereas two bluebottles in a squad car would be beirt gardaí san gluaisteán.


    Hertz - July 5, 2012

    I often wonder about the definition of what a hate crime is. If a bunch of scum bags beat the sh!t out of me its violence but if the beat a black Irish man its a hate crime.


    Bartley - July 5, 2012

    Its usually thought of as a crime motivated mainly by bias or prejudice against a particular group or identity (ethnic, sexual, religious, political, whatever).

    So for example the Fine Gaeler attacked outside the Ard Fheis for looking like Phil Hogan, that would be a hate crime.

    The same lad getting beaten up by a drunk on Grafton St of a Saturday night, that would just be a normal assault.


    Tomboktu - July 5, 2012

    I have been told that the Scottish laws are regarded as the most progressive on hate crime. (I am sure there are others who would see that as regressive.)

    A UK psychologist whose name escapes me now (will supply it tomorrow when I get out a paper by him at work) makes the point that the reason a hate crime is worse than a non-hate crime that is otherwise of similar seriousness is that a hate crime attacks something that is at the core of the identity of the victim, of who they are.


    Bartley - July 5, 2012

    Yes, thats a good way of putting it.

    Often the issue is confused by the widely-held but mistaken assumption that the targeted identity must be oppressed and/or a minority and/or pass some subjective test of goodness.

    So we might have someone for example who would be horrified by witnessing a hijab-clad Muslim woman being abused in the street by a gang of yobs, but who will happily go home and blog about Mitt Romneys magical Mormon underpants.

    That same hypothetical hipster might view the treatment of Nigerian taxi-drivers in Dublin as a crime, yet openly boycott Israeli academics.

    Whereas in fact it matters not a wit how worthy-of-sympathy the victim is, the point is whether their identity formed the sole or main motivation.


    Logan - July 6, 2012

    Maybe this is a naive comment Bartley, but when you compare jeering at a public figure on a blog to abusing a woman on the street, and suggest they are comparable, I presume you are trying to be funny?


    EWI - July 6, 2012

    That same hypothetical hipster might view the treatment of Nigerian taxi-drivers in Dublin as a crime, yet openly boycott Israeli academics.

    This is utter horseshit. Israel is a state, not an ethnicity. As well claim that boycotts of Nazi Germany or Apartheid South Africa were hate crimes.


    WorldbyStorm - July 6, 2012

    Dear oh dear Bartley, Logan is spot on. This sub-trolling approach of yours (actually dipping as above into trolling proper) across the past while is going to have to stop. The degree of projection and self-serving stuff you’re coming out with is quite something to see.


    maddurdu - July 6, 2012

    I think its time to stop feeding the troll…


    WorldbyStorm - July 6, 2012



    4. Bartley - July 6, 2012

    you compare jeering at a public figure on a blog to abusing a woman on the stree

    Of course you can jeer to your hearts content about his healthcare plan, or his business record, or even his oddly robotic manner.

    But jibes about his Mormon-ism are off limits within the normally understood boundaries of political correctness.

    Why? Well, because they call into question the right of a Mormon to participate in public life, and betray a wish to ghetto-ize people of that faith out-of-sight in Utah – which in earlier times we used to call religious persecution.

    So it may seem odd that a rich, white, not-so-likable man has a right to the same protections as a powerless, sympathetic Middle Eastern woman. But that is simply the nature of tolerance; you dont get to choose who is protected from abuse and who is not, according to your own likes and dislikes.

    Now the standard defence of liberal Mormon-baiting seems to revolve around the LDS religion being just plain weird – you got the underpants, the rocks in hats, the polygamy. But show me any other major religion (or indeed any of the secular cults that attempted to displace organized religion during the 20th century) and I\’ll show you plenty weird.

    Perhaps we should appeal to Timboktu on this issue, given that s/he seems to be familiar with the academic discourse on related issues – I very much doubt that he\’d come back with the latest in diversity theory being the handy bigotry ready-reckoner … Islamophobia: oh, no, badness! Mormon-bating: sure, knock yourself out!


    This is utter horseshit. Israel is a state, not an ethnicity.

    Neither, of course, is Nigeria an ethnicity. But when someone refuses to ride in a Nigerian taxi, they are not objecting to the drivers passport. Rather it is because the driver is highly likely to be black, and its his blackness thats at issue – they are calling into question the presence of a black man in Ireland (without any reference to his content of his character).

    Similarly, the boycotted academic is highly likely to be Jewish, and its the presence of a Jew in a Jewish homeland, indeed the very existence of that homeland, thats being called into question (without any reference to the nature of that individuals politics, which are likely to skew left by Israeli standards).

    As well claim that boycotts of Nazi Germany or Apartheid South Africa were hate crimes.

    I hope youre not comparing Israel to either Nazi Germany or apartheid-era South Africa? The former comparison is particularly egregious, for obvious historical reasons. (And I stand accused of trolling?)

    Israel is a democracy where full civil and political rights are granted to non-Jews. Apart from being absolved of certain obligations around military service, non-Jews are free to participate fully in Israeli life (and in fact the men in some groups such as the Druze are conscripted, whereas others such as the Bedouin, volunteer for this service).

    Sure there are issues with the status of the territories and the settlements, and a final peace accord is likely to dismantle some of the latter while adjusting the borders of the former. But it really would be hateful to compare these issues to the evil of Nazi Germany.


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