Large number of outstanding warrants not executed

I have concerns at the large number of outstanding warrants in Ireland, with 123,969 warrants waiting to be executed in May 2012. The number in the Dublin area is very high making up 58% of the total, and over 46,000 warrants are over 5 years old.

We must ensure that justice is done, and is seen to be done

Ordinary law abiding people, especially those in working class areas that suffer most from crime, need to be assured that committal warrants for convicted criminals are carried out quickly, and that bench warrants for missed court appearances are acted on.

I think many people will be assured by the news that An Garda Síochána gives priority to warrants for serious crimes.

I know the Minister is working to resolve this issue which dates back many years – a similar amount of warrants were outstanding in 2008 – and much has already been done, with an Inspector overseeing the work in each Garda District in Dublin and Garda Division outside Dublin focused on managing this issue, and there is a working group in place among all the stakeholders such as the Courts Service and Prison Services to bring forward solutions.

Much of the figure is made up from outstanding penal warrants, issued under the Road Traffic Acts, public order and theft offences, and we must ensure that these un-served warrants that may be years old don’t clog up the system for Gardai tackling serious crime. Where possible other methods of restitution for minor offences should be applied and I am aware that the Court must take into account ability to pay fines, and consider other provisions such as community service.

Action is needed to clear up another of the messes that this Government has inherited, and I look forward to seeing recommendations of the warrants working group implemented without delay on an ongoing basis.

Finally I would thank the Minister for Justice and Equality, and Garda Commissioner for making these figures available