About RTÉ Television
The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Elderly Safety Campaign

Monday, 8 February 2010

The National Model for Community Policing was launched in January 2009 and rolled out. Changes to community policing will help elderly (both rural and urban) feel safer in their homes, with a closer working relationship with community gardai.

At the end of 2010 Neighbourhood Profiling will be rolled out where the community gardai become responsible for a specific geographical area (e.g. a housing estate, town-land or road etc) where they will know the population who live within their boundary whether they are elderly, young, criminal or if they are vulnerable.

Why is it Relevant Today?
CSO figures over the past 20 years have shown that rural Ireland has an increasing elderly population, at 200,000 in 2006. There have been so many recent burglaries and attacks on elderly in the home, many elderly are in fear of being burgled. The Garda Inspector will give do's and don'ts advice on how to protect yourself against being burgled.

Who Is The Guest?

Inspector Nuala Finn - Garda Community Relations in community policing division in Harcourt Square, Dublin.

(1) Tell me about community policing?

Introduced in Ireland in November 1987, it has since been extended to cover most larger urban areas. Community policing occurs where Gardaí and members of the community and statutory and voluntary agencies work together to - Prevent crime, Prevent anti-social behaviour and Reduce the fear of crime Promote inter-agency problem solving, Bring offenders to justice and improve the overall quality of life.

It aims to provide the people in an area with their own dedicated Garda, someone with whom they can discuss everyday occurrences and build up a strong and supportive personal relationship. To help the residents of the area to prevent crime by supporting crime prevention initiatives such as Neighbourhood Watch and Community Alert. To work with other social agencies in the area to help curb crime and vandalism.

In the 1980's, community policing was divided into units and did not have a geographical spread. There was no consistency across the country where community policing was prevalent in some parts of the country and not in others. In areas that it did operate it worked functionally well. Also de facto (community gardai) have existed in communities, where they lived and worked in the local communities and where involved in their local communities and knew most people.

The National Model for Community Policing was launched in January 2009 and rolled out, where areas in the 26 counties have been divided into towns, communities, cities and rural areas.

(2) What is the aim of the National Model for community policing?

The model has built on re-energising the community policing culture and practices where collaborative 'partnerships' are fostered between Gardai and community members to find workable solutions that increase safety and security in the community. There will be a more dedicated, accessible and visible garda service to communities and a reduction in crime.

Community policing will build trust with the communities and establish an effective engagement process to meet the needs of the community, provide feedback and be accountable to them, while enhancing the quality of life of the entire community and reduce the fear of crime.

The objective is to reinvigorate community policing and put a standard on it across the country, where the good practice of community policing and de facto policing has a standardised spread across the country. There is one in every garda district across the country - 200 districts in all which are headed up by the local Superintendent.

There is a hope that numbers will increase in the future. Example in the Kerry division there are 5 districts with a Superintendant at the top, there is the Dun Laoghaire district, Bray district, in the Sligo district there is Sligo town and two other smaller towns and villages.

Community policing will return to an older model of policing, relationships with Gardai and community will evolve from this and there will be more contact with vulnerable elderly people and a greater rapport with the community. Community gardai will know their patch and physically engage with community alert groups, health nurses, local agencies and the community.

Most rural garda stations are open between 10 - 1pm and this is advertised locally, call your local garda station and ask to be introduced to your local community garda.
Control centre nearest is the nearest place, a local dispatcher can send out a patrol car from the nearest area if you are in difficulty. There will be a greater degree of visibility of community gardai which will deter crime and help elderly feel safer.

(3) Part of the community policing a new toll kit is been rolled out in the form of Neighbourhood Profiling tell me about this?

Starting at the end of 2010 Neighbourhood Profiling will be rolled out. This entails the community gardai been responsible for a specific geographical area and knowing their patch e.g. a housing estate, town-land or road etc. Community gardai will know the population who live within their boundary whether they are elderly, young, criminal, postman, if someone is vulnerable etc.

They will need partnership and engagement within the community. They can assist people in how to become members of local community alert schemes or neighbourhood watch. Community gardai do liaison with community alert and neighbourhood watch schemes and identify and check up on vulnerable elderly within their community.

It is a two way street, community gardai would like the elderly to get more involved with the community gardai and make themselves known to them. If they have a concern for their safety they can call the community gardai. Community gardai can also advise them how to get involved with their local Active Retirement Groups or Community Alert groups. Community gardai can advise them about issues concerning them on the ground e.g. burglaries, how to stay safe and anti social behaviour, be vigilant in their area and watch out for strange cars or people. Always to report suspicious cars or people calling to the house. It is better to call community gardai be safe than sorry if elderly have a suspicion.

(4) What is the relationship between the community gardai and community alert/neighbourhood watch?

Community Alert is a partnership programme between An Garda Síochána and Muintir na Tíre, An Garda Síochána will give an added commitment at every level to promote and support the establishment and operation of Community Alert groups. It will include Community Alert in District and Divisional Annual Policing Plans. Senior Garda managers, in consultation with the relevant Community Alert Development Officer, will establish District and Divisional Community Alert Committees.

An Garda Síochána will give an added commitment to its promotion, organisation and support to Neighbourhood Watch in all crime prevention and crime reduction strategies, including Policing Plans. Gardai will provide all resource material (booklets, window stickers, survey forms and administration forms), Each Neighbourhood Watch scheme will be assigned a Liaison Garda, Senior Garda managers will establish Divisional and District Neighbourhood Watch Committees

What are 3 messages elderly should take on board to stay safe in their homes?

(a)Don't let strangers into your house. A utility company will notify you in advance of calling to your house they don't cold call. Don't let strange people into your house, they should carry an ID card which you should inspect if you have any suspicions do not let them into your home and call the community gardai.

(b) Don't engage someone at your door for work - if they offer to fix your drive way etc get an itemised quote from them, only employ someone recommended or known to you.

(c) Never keep cash in your home, put money in financial institutions, write cheques that can be cancelled. A cheque can be stopped but robbed money cannot be replaced. Research has shown that in most burglaries the thieves want in and out of the house as quickly as possible.

(5) What is community alert/neighbour watch scheme and how do community gardai work with them?

Community Alert is a community safety programme for rural areas with an emphasis on older and vulnerable people. It operates as a partnership between the community, An Garda Síochána and Muintir na Tíre. It works on the principle of shared responsibility for crime prevention and reduction. To set up a group in your area, contact your local Garda Station or your local the Muintir na Tíre Community Alert Development Officer (Tel: 062-51163 or view a list of Development Officers). The group may be set up in response to community demand or as a result of Garda contact.

Leaflets - ask in your local garda station for 3 leaflets on crime prevention, also on website security checklist and leaflets.
(1) Street wise
(2) Safety for older people
(3) Bogus callers