Thursday, 5 July 2018
14. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of community gardaí in the Dublin metropolitan region, DMR, west division in each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28900/18]
The number of community gardaí has been drastically reduced in the Dublin west division over the past several years. It has led to significant public safety concerns due to a massive increase in crime and anti-social behaviour with people feeling unsafe to go outside their homes. I hosted a public meeting on Tuesday this week which was attended by a large number of people. There is a Garda visibility crisis and a law and order issue which the Government is not addressing, despite its rhetoric around recruitment. Gardaí in Blanchardstown have said they do not have enough manpower to answer the phones at particular times of the day. How is the Minister going to address this problem?
The distribution of Garda personnel is exclusively the statutory responsibility of the Garda Commissioner. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities to ensure the optimum use is made of these resources.
As I have stated at committee and in the House, community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána. It provides a means of recognising that every community, urban and rural, has its own concerns and expectations. That is why it is important to recognise that community garda is not a specialist role in An Garda Síochána but, rather, that all gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. The official categorisation as a community garda simply refers to gardaí exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities and civil society, including giving talks to schools and engaging with community groups, residents associations and others across communities. It is a matter for the divisional chief superintendent to determine the optimum distribution of duties among the personnel available to him or her, having regard to the profile of the area and its specific needs.
I am informed by the Commissioner that the strength of Dublin metropolitan region west division on 31 May 2018, the latest date for which information is readily available, was 671, of whom 68 are designated as community gardaí.