CCTV is a vital tool in the fight against crime in Offaly.
At Monday’s Joint Policing Committee meeting Niamh Dowler, Community and Enterprise with Offaly County Council who gave a presentation on the countywide Community Alert Scheme, said communities had highlighted the need for CCTV and theyl would be seriously looking at ways of putting it in place.
“The Gardai have been hugely supportive of the Community Alert Scheme and CCTV is the big one for this year,” said Ms Dowler.
Community Alert was set up in March of 2011 and brought together community and neighbourhood watch groups and to date has met seven times.
She said there was a definate appetite out there for community alert and it had led to the revitalisation of many community groups.
Other issues discussed at the meetings included public lighting, suicide prevention, the establishment of a text alert system, focussing on supports for the elderly and smoke alarms.
Cllr John Leahy said personal contact such as meals on wheels was of huge importance to elderly people. He asked how many Garda Reserves there were in the county and asked if they could be linked into the Community Alert Scheme. He praised the text alert system.
Jody Gunning said there were a lot of groups not involed in the Community Alert Scheme. “They should get involved. They can ring Offaly Forum. The more people you have talking about this, the more work will be done,” said Mr Gunning.
Cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick said most Gardai no longer live in the areas they work in. “This has to be looked at from a different approach. People need to get to know the local Gardai,” he said.
Supt Kavanagh said there were two Garda Reserves in Birr and 15 in Tullamore. He said the role of Community Liason Officer was carried out by a full time member of the Gardai and it was necessary to have it this way, as Garda Reserves only work four plus houes a week. “It would be better to have contact with a full time Garda,” he said.
Supt Kavanagh said with improvements with transport, it was easier for people to commute and Gardai could not be compelled to live in the same area they worked in.
Cllr Fitpatrick said it was important for rural communities to come together as with the closure of local Garda stations, community awareness might deter criminals.