Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Department of An Taoiseach
96. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if she is considering additional resources to allow gardaí to issue summonses to cyclists found to break road laws; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7739/17]
As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. I am assured by the Garda Commissioner that the allocation of Gardaí is continually monitored and reviewed taking into account all relevant factors including crime trends, demographics, and security assessments relating to the area in question so as to ensure optimal use is made of Garda human resources. It is the responsibility of the Divisional Officer to allocate personnel within his/her Division.
This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. To make this a reality for all, the Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. This year, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Appointments will also be made to the Garda Reserve of approximately 300.
I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, 838 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. I am also informed by the Commissioner that another 750 trainee Garda are scheduled to attest this year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end. This accelerated recruitment is complemented by substantial investment in resources that will support the delivery of An Garda Síochána’s Modernisation and Renewal Programme 2016-2021 which sets key strategic objectives for Roads Policing and will inform and guide An Garda Síochána’s road policing plans over the next 5 years.
The 2017 Garda Policing Plan has indicated a commitment to increase the number of personnel dedicated to traffic duties by 10% to reflect the increasing numbers of personnel across the entire organisation. Given that there was no recruitment for a period of five years it will take some time before there are fully trained officers available to replace the number of personnel that have retired across the entire organisation, including traffic. However, the Commissioner has confirmed that the personnel requirements of the Garda Traffic Corps is currently being assessed to identifying the most vulnerable areas in regard to serious traffic collisions and the level of compliance to Road Traffic Legislation. Combined with this data I am informed that the Assistant Commissioner, Roads Policing and Major Event/Emergency Management is currently assessing the capacity of Divisions and Districts to identify and target areas where An Garda Síochána could accelerate the deployment of personnel to traffic in 2017. The filling of the vacancies identified will be conducted on a structured basis and will be further enhanced with the recently renewed recruitment campaigns to An Garda Síochána.
Road traffic legislation is, of course, also enforced as part of the day to day duties of members of An Garda Síochána. Both targeted and general methods of enforcement have a valuable role to play in An Garda Síochána's enforcement programme, which targets locations with a view to preventing the commission of offences, detecting errant motorists, changing their behaviour and ultimately reducing death and injuries on our roads. As roads policing is the duty of every Garda member, this duty is not reserved for Garda members of the Traffic Corps. Similarly, members of the Traffic Corps are required to engage in the core activity of An Garda Síochána concerning the prevention and detection of crime.
The Road Traffic (Fixed Charge Offences — Cyclists) Regulations 2015 (S.I. No. 331 of 2015) provide for the issuing of Fixed Charge Notices (FCNs) to cyclists. I have requested details of the number of FCNs issued to cyclists in 2016, from the Garda Commissioner and I will arrange for this to be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as this is to hand.