Calls for Garda Reserve to accompany litter wardens in Dublin due to assault threats

ireland
Calls For Garda Reserve To Accompany Litter Wardens In Dublin Due To Assault Threats Calls For Garda Reserve To Accompany Litter Wardens In Dublin Due To Assault Threats
The chief executive of Dublin City Council claimed that litter wardens have been seriously assaulted while trying to tackle some of the capital's dumping blackspots. Photo: PA
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Sarah Slater

A transport chief has called for members of the Garda Reserve to accompany litter wardens around Dublin due to the threat of serious assault.

Earlier this year, Owen Keegan, chief executive of Dublin City Council, claimed that litter wardens have been seriously assaulted while trying to tackle some of Dublin's dumping blackspots.

Christy Burke, chairperson of the Transport Strategic Policy Committee (TSPC), a former Lord Mayor of Dublin and Independent councillor for the capital’s north inner city, has questioned the lack of litter and dog wardens despite the rise in dumping and risk to wardens.

Mr Keegan, however, despite the alleged serious assaults on wardens, said "there has been no increase in wardens in the Central Area." He explained to councillors that asking council staff to tackle serious offenders was putting them at an unacceptable risk.

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"It is very difficult for me to put people into a situation where there is a high risk they will be assaulted," Mr Keegan added.

The Transport Strategic Policy Committee has already backed a motion calling for a pilot of community wardens in two different areas, either side of the river Liffey in Dublin.

Cllr Burke said: "Having a Garda Reserve member accompany the wardens would act as a deterrent to illegal dumpers threatening serious assault. They have the power to detain individuals until gardaí arrive.

"The Garda Reserve needs to be urgently deployed to dumping hotspots. Action is what is needed, not idle words. The council could use increased revenue from parking fines to cover the costs of the new wardens."

Community wardens

Brendan O’Brien, the council’s executive engineer for traffic, at a recent transport committee meeting, said he would be concerned about the vulnerability of community wardens out on the streets.

Mr O’Brien said: "We’re all in favour of increased enforcement and trying to ensure that people obey the rules."

However, he highlighted the risk of anti-social behaviour and violence. "Any service will have to really consider the safety of the people out in the streets," he added.

However, according to a council spokesperson there has, so far this year, "been one incident of threatening verbal abuse directed at a Litter Warden while carrying out his duties."

He added: "Due to the nature of the work being carried out by the litter wardens, there is a risk of being verbally or physically assaulted.

"The wellbeing and safety of litter wardens plays a primary part of the service. Litter wardens have all been trained in carrying out visual risk assessments when dealing with particular situations but one can never be sure as to what reaction one will get from a person when trying to enforce the legislation. Wardens will seek assistance and/or exit the area if deemed at risk."

He went on to add that all litter wardens have been trained to report incidents/accidents that happen in the course of their daily duties.

Dublin City Council has handed out just one dog fouling fine within the last three years.

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