Garda transport antisocial behaviour crackdown sees just 49 charges in first half of 2023

Some 3,029 incidents associated with the operation were recorded on the Garda Pulse computer system up to the end of June

Dart stock pic

The Garda operation to crack down on antisocial behaviour on public transport saw just 49 criminal charges in first half of 2023.

Operation Saul involves both overt and covert policing daily on bus, Luas, Dart and other train services with a goal of tackling antisocial behaviour, public order incidents and other criminal activity.

Some 3,029 incidents associated with the operation were recorded on the Garda Pulse computer system up to the end of June according to information provided to the Dáil by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

Of these 2,954 were deemed to be “non-crime” incidents.


Seventy-five incidents were classified as crimes that are either under active investigation or have resulted in accused people appearing before the Criminal Courts.

A total of 49 charges or summons were preferred during the first six months of 2023 as well as a small number of adult cautions and juvenile referrals.

This compares with 65 charges that resulted from Operation Saul policing in the same period on 2022.

Non-crime incidents are those which gardaí come across or are called to but do not meet the criteria of being registered or investigated as a crime.

On public transport, they could include unruly or loud behaviour that is not deemed to meet the threshold of a public-order crime.

A third party may also report their suspicions that a crime has been committed but no evidence of criminal behaviour is found.

Non-crime incidents could also include reports that members of the public felt in fear or threatened, though the behaviour they were concerned about did not come to pass or was not criminal in nature.

Garda call-outs to investigate public transport users who are distressed or intoxicated could also be recorded as non-crime incidents.

The Operation Saul figures for the first half of 2023 were provided in a written response to a question from Fianna Fáil Dublin Bay South TD Jim O’Callaghan.

Ms McEntee outlined how Operation Saul is implemented across the Dublin Region with the aim of providing a safe environment for commuters using all public transport services as well as reassuring citizens, visitors and the business community that the capital is a safe place to visit.

Each chief superintendent within the region is said to work with transport stakeholders and providers as well as local authorities to “ensure an integrated approach at Key High Risk periods of the year”.

Ms McEntee said a new Garda Dublin Metropolitan Region Control Centre based at the National Train Control Centre at Heuston Station was opened earlier this year and the “state-of-the art new premises” strengthens links with public transport operators.

She also said the location of the Garda, Iarnród Éireann and Dublin City Council control centres in the same building will “help Gardaí to build upon the already excellent relationships they have with public transport providers, particularly in the event of serious emergencies requiring co-ordinated responses.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times