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Increased garda resources needed to tackle Shoplifting Epidemic – Andrews

Barry Andrews MEP has said that the shoplifting epidemic in the capital must be top of the agenda for the new Justice Minister after this week’s anticipated Cabinet reshuffle.

“Organised retail crime has reached epidemic levels in Dublin and it is having a severe impact on small and medium-sized businesses.  This issue can’t get lost amidst Fine Gael’s internal politics surrounding the Cabinet reshuffle,” the Dublin MEP said.“This is a pressing issue demanding immediate attention. According to the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, retail theft costs the sector €1.6 billion annually. Ireland has the highest cost per capita of retail crime globally. We need to act now.”Andrews pledged to write to the new Justice Minister, when appointed, to ensure a renewed commitment to combating retail crime."I am concerned that Operation Táirge, the garda operation set up in December to combat organised retail crime, is not adequately resourced to make a significant dent in this epidemic. There has been a steady increase in retail crime from January to March this year. This includes thefts, assaults, public order disturbances, criminal damage, and possession of offensive weapons associated with theft reports. It’s a rise in reported incidents compared to the same period last year.“We need to listen to what retailers want, and what they want is more boots on the ground. The reality is that overall garda numbers in Dublin are nowhere near where they need to be.  The sense of safety that people used to feel coming in and out of town is gone.  Families, commuters, business owners and tourists all feel more vulnerable.  The new Justice Minister must redouble efforts to return a sense of safety to our streets and ensure that small businesses can operate without fear."Retail crime is far from victimless; its repercussions are evident. There is a growing presence of private security stationed outside shops across Dublin. This poses an additional financial strain for businesses when they are already dealing with huge increases in operating costs. It's the responsibility of the State, not the burden business owners, to ensure adequate funding for combating organised retail crime."The reports of verbal and racial abuse targeting staff are deeply concerning, especially in the aftermath of the Dublin riots. I'm worried that such behaviour may become normalised, especially among younger perpetrators. This underscores the need for a well-funded, long-term and robust Garda response to address these issues proactively and prevent them from becoming ingrained as societal norms."

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