Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Department of Justice and Equality
As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of resources, including Community Gardaí, among the various Garda Divisions and Districts and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.
I have been informed that as of the 31 August 2016, the latest date for which figures are readily available, there were 780 Community Gardaí assigned to Garda Divisions throughout the country. Of these 6 were assigned to the Clare Division.It is, of course, the case that all Gardaí have a role to play in addressing community policing issues as and when the need arises. In that sense, community policing involves far more than a single unit within An Garda Síochána.
Community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána. It provides a means of recognising that every community – both urban and rural – has its own concerns and expectations. In this regard I welcome the strong emphasis placed by the Commissioner's Modernisation and Renewal Programme 2016-2021 on further developing and supporting the community policing ethos of the organisation so that Gardaí spend more time in the community, gaining public confidence and trust and providing a greater sense of security. Proposed initiatives include the establishment of local Community Policing Teams (CPTs) headed by an Inspector and made up of Gardaí from across a range of areas to proactively work with the community to prevent and detect crime; and the establishment of Community Safety Fora in every District comprising local Gardaí, local communities and key stakeholders.
The implementation of these initiatives will be supported by the Government's commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country. This will be achieved though continuing the ongoing accelerated Garda recruitment programme with a view to increasing Garda numbers to 15,000, as well as doubling the Garda Reserve and increasing the number of civilian staff so as to free-up Gardaí for front-line policing. Taking account of projected retirements, reaching a strength of 15,000 members will require some 3,200 new Garda members to be recruited on a phased basis over the next four years in addition to the 1,200 that will have been recruited by the end of this year since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014. So far 534 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream uniform duties nationwide. Community policing, and all other Garda activities, will undoubtedly benefit from these resources now coming on stream.
In order to continue to ensure seamless ongoing recruitment I was very pleased to announce the commencement of a new recruitment campaign on 8 September. The campaign is being organised by the Public Appointments Service on behalf of the Commissioner. Applications must be made through www.publicjobs.ie.The existing recruitment campaign (launched last November) is ongoing and successful candidates will continue to be called from that campaign this year and into next year. It is expected that successful candidates from the new campaign will enter the Garda College from mid-2017.
The Government is also committed to prioritising community crime prevention schemes. My announcement last week at the National Ploughing Championships of a doubling of the funding for the Community Alert Programme to €350,000 which will go directly to local groups is a tangible expression of this commitment to supporting a partnership approach to crime prevention between local communities and An Garda Síochána.