Thursday, 20th September 2018
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Gardai are most at risk in this county

Officers here are six times more likely to be assaulted

Gardai in Waterford are at greater risk of being assaulted than their colleagues in other parts of the country, an investigation has found.

Waterford is the most dangerous division for gardai, according to a data analysis by RTÉ Investigates, with officers in the county six times more likely of being attacked in the line of duty than in the safest garda division, Wicklow. And, for all injuries, including assault, gardai in Waterford were three times more likely to suffer an injury than in Dublin North Central, the safest garda division in this category. The analysis was based on data released under freedom of information and shows that geography has a significant bearing on the injury rate and assault rate for gardai. Somewhat counter intuitively, the more dangerous divisions in terms of injuries sustained are not necessarily the urban settings of inner city Dublin, Limerick or Cork, but include larger rural counties such as Kerry, Donegal and Tipperary. Waterford recorded 59 injuries per 100 gardai, over the six years under review, while Dublin North Central had the lowest injury rate, with 19 per 100 gardai. Across all regional divisions, the average number of injuries per 100 gardai was 29. In terms of assaults solely, the most violent garda division on a per capita basis was also Waterford, which recorded 38 assaults for every 100 of its gardai from 2012 17. "Gardai face significant and serious danger when performing their duties and as a result, a number of gardai will inevitably get injured," according to An Garda Siochana. An Garda Siochana records injuries under a number of headings, including "assault," "manual handling," "needle stick injury," "psychological shock or trauma," "road traffic accident," "slip/trips/falls" and "injured by animal." Those records were compiled according to garda division, one of the organisational units in An Garda Siochana. In most cases, those divisions correspond to counties, except for a number of smaller counties, which are amalgamated together in pairs. Dublin and Cork are also sub divided into a number of divisions.

While the number of gardai dropped during the recession because of a freeze in recruitment which ended in 2014, in more recent years, Garda numbers have increased. On average, the annual number of serving gardai in regional divisions was around 11,000 for 2012 17, during which time there were around 3,200 injuries recorded. Using annual garda numbers in each of these divisions over the six years from 2012 to 2017, it was possible to calculate a per capita number of injuries sustained per 100 gardai. It may seem surprising that Dublin North Central, which has a reputation for anti social behaviour, drug problems and social disadvantage, is the safest division for gardai using a per capita measurement.

But this could be explained by the fact that there are far more gardai in this division, which dilutes the per capita injury rate downwards, relative to other, less urban divisions. It is also possible that in more urban divisions, where there is a greater concentration of gardai, there is quicker backup available to police officers who find themselves in danger. Kerry, meanwhile, was the next highest on the injury list in per capita terms, while Tipperary was in third place. Both of those counties are relatively big and rural. Although Dublin North Central was relatively safer for gardai, their neighbours in Dublin West were not so lucky. This was the third highest on this list, on 41 injuries, a position it shared with Tipperary.

Assault: the most common form of injury for gardai The category listed as "other" includes relatively uncommon occurrences, such as psychological trauma, injuries caused by animals (of which there were a total of 41 over the six year period under review), as well as other unspecified injuries. Assault is the most common form, accounting for 45% of all injuries sustained. In total numbers, from 2012 17, this represents almost 1,500 assaults. Those records were compiled according to garda division, one of the organisational units in An Garda Siochana. In most cases, those divisions correspond to counties, except for a number of smaller counties, which are amalgamated together in pairs. Dublin and Cork are also sub divided into a number of divisions.

While the number of gardai dropped during the recession because of a freeze in recruitment which ended in 2014, in more recent years, Garda numbers have increased. On average, the annual number of serving gardai in regional divisions was around 11,000 for 2012 17, during which time there were around 3,200 injuries. Using annual garda numbers in each of these divisions over the six years from 2012 to 2017, it was possible to calculate a per capita number of injuries sustained per 100 gardai. Kerry, meanwhile, was the next highest on the injury list in per capita terms, while Tipperary was in third place. Although Dublin North Central was relatively safer for gardai, their neighbours in Dublin West were not so lucky. This was the third highest on this list, on 41 injuries, a position it shared with Tipperary. Assault is the most common form, accounting for 45% of all injuries sustained.

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