THERE has a been a broad welcome for proposals that will see gardai make efforts to ensure that elderly people feel safer and more secure within their local communities.
Members of the Limerick City and County Council Joint Policing Committee were, this week, briefed about the garda involvement in the Limerick Age Friendly Programme.
A number of other agencies have also signed up to the programme, which is set to be formally launched and rolled out in the near future.
Chief Superintendent David Sheahan says a lot of work has gone into the devising the programme which has a number of key objectives such as ensuring more effective communication with elderly people and building the trust and confidence they have in the force.
“What we are going to do going forward is to try and develop a strategy whereby we have elderly people that are residing in our communities who can have a free and easy access to the services that we provide and that they can do so in a very friendly way,” he said.
As part of the programme, members of the force will receive specific training and will be encouraged to interact with elderly people on a daily basis.
“Most of the gardai on the ground will have to be alive to this and buy into the process,” said Chief Supt Sheahan.
As part of the age friendly programme, it is proposed that Crime Prevention Ambassadors will be recruited in communities across Limerick and that they will then visit older people to deliver crime prevention advice.
“What we are really trying to change is the way in which they think about things and we are looking at it from a crime prevention point of view so that when they go to older people we are really going to give them crime prevention advice to help them in their ways so that if bogus callers come their door, how do they deal with that? What do they do in the context of their own personal security? what advice can we give them in the context of their own home for when they are there alone on their own and how can we engage with volunteerism within communities so that other people can take a role in that as well?”
Chief Supt Sheahan says other agencies and local communities will have to come on board to ensure the programme is a success. “I’ve always said it’s about a community response and a community spirit within an area that’s going to drive the change rather than one particular agency,” he commented.