646 Gardaí Assaulted This Year ‘Huge Concern’ – Drew Harris

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is expected to tell the Joint Oireachtas Justice Committee today that it is of “huge concern” that 646 on-duty gardaí have been assaulted this year.

The incidents occurred between January 1st and September 30th.

The commissioner will tell committee members that he is aware of the personal safety risks, physical and mental, that members of AGS face in the line of duty.

“Unfortunately, the harsh reality is, that it poses a significant challenge for An Garda Síochána to develop a safe psychological environment for our personnel due to the unpredictability and volatile nature of policing,” Harris will say.

Harris will pledge to invest in supports for members of the force faced with trauma and mental health challenges with the launch of a new health and wellbeing office for gardaí.

This comes after the Garda Representative Association told the justice committee that at least 150 gardaí are expected to leave the job this year. This year has seen 116 resignations already.  

In relation to the policing of protests, such as that seen outside Leinster House last month, Commissioner Harris will tell politicians that policing of protests is to be community-based, engagement focused, legal, proportionate, intelligence-led and human-rights based.

Commissioner Harris will tell the committee that the recruitment campaign for clerical roles withing An Garda Síochána has attracted 7,400 applicants for operational and specialist support roles.

The commissioner will also address the lingering roster issue. He is expected to speak about finding a balance between providing sufficient resources to ensure public safety, and also predictable roster for gardaí.