Home > Seanad Éireann debate. Public order and safe streets: statements.

[Oireachtas] Seanad Éireann debate. Public order and safe streets: statements. (23 Nov 2022)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/seanad...

Acting Chairperson (Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee): I welcome the Minister of the State to the Chamber for statements on public order and safe streets. He has ten minutes.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): I thank Senators for the opportunity to address the House on this matter today. Everyone has the right to be safe and, importantly, to feel safe in our communities.

That principle is central to my Department's mission to have a safe, fair and inclusive Ireland. It is also central to our community safety policy and the provisions of new legislation, such as the policing, security and community safety Bill. It is important, however, that we do not attempt to address all of the complex underlying factors associated with crime and antisocial behaviour with a policing response alone.

Much of the daily work of the Garda, as with other police services, is concerned with non-crime-related activity and the prevention of harm to some of the most vulnerable. Garda members are not always the best placed to offer support in these incidents. They may require interventions from healthcare professionals or other specialised services.

While community policing is the foundation that allows people to go about their daily lives in safety and comfort, it is understood that police services cannot tackle all the causes of crime or antisocial behaviour alone. Improving community safety requires all sectors to work together with strong collaboration across State agencies and engagement from the community. This is the focus of the community safety policy, the aim being to use evidence-based approaches to tackle the root causes of the issues and address them locally.

As many of the Members of the House may be aware, the Minister, Deputy McEntee, launched three pilot local community safety partnerships in late 2020. They are currently running in Longford, Waterford and Dublin's north inner city. The community safety partnerships will provide a forum for State agencies and local community representatives to work together to address community concerns. I firmly believe local knowledge of the issues a community faces is vital to addressing the problems at source. No one knows the problems and understands the potential solutions better than those living and working in the local community. The partnerships will build on the past, and on the structures of joint policing committees, to develop and deliver a modern fit-for-purpose forum for the future.

As recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, responsibility for community safety does not rest solely with An Garda Síochána or my Department alone. It is a whole-of-government responsibility. State services must act in harmony with one another and the community to improve safety. The partnerships will enable the community to hold these services to account. We know we will encounter challenges, particularly in these early days, and that not everything trialled in the pilot partnerships will work. As with all pilot schemes, we will learn and grow from these first lessons. The lessons will inform future partnerships and community safety plans across the State. Also, they will leave safer communities for all of us to enjoy.

I am acutely aware of the effects that crime and antisocial behaviour can have on the quality of life of all communities. An Garda Síochána will always be available to respond to local concerns, and high-visibility policing is a key to ensuring our communities feel and are safe. However, the most effective way we can improve community safety over the longer term is through the empowerment of local communities, combined with support from the State.

I have mentioned the policing, security and community safety Bill and wish to expand upon this landmark legislation. It represents an important new departure in policing, repealing and replacing the Garda Síochána Act 2005. It will support the human rights of all to be and feel safe in their communities. When enacted, the Bill will strengthen the independent, external oversight of An Garda Síochána and place the partnerships on a statutory footing, which will enable their roll-out to every local authority...

[Click this link to the Oireachtas website for the full debate]

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Crime prevention
23 November 2022

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