Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Department of Justice and Equality
114. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda Reserves who have been recruited to date in 2017; the number of Garda Reserves and the number of Garda Reserves at January 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51700/17]
As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the recruitment and training of the Garda Reserve and the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter.
I am advised by the Commissioner that the strength of the Reserve on the 31 January 2017 was 690 as compared to 603 on the 31 October 2017. It is regrettable that there has been a substantial reduction in the strength of the Reserve in recent years from a peak of 1,164 in 2013. The fall-off arises from a range of factors, not least the lifting in 2014 of the moratorium on recruitment of trainee Gardaí which has affected Reserve numbers in two ways - firstly some serving Reserves have successfully applied to become trainee Gardaí, and secondly, resources in both An Garda Síochána and in the Public Appointment Service have been focused on delivering an accelerated programme of recruitment of full time members of An Garda Síochána.
I am sure that the Deputy will agree, notwithstanding the very valuable contribution of Reserve members throughout the country, that it was the right decision, with finite resources, to prioritise the running of recruitment campaigns to replenish the full-time ranks of An Garda Síochána over the last three years.
The "Programme for a Partnership Government" includes a commitment to double the Garda Reserve to act in a supportive role undertaking local patrols and crime reduction measures. In line with this the Government has in place a plan to achieve a Reserve strength of 2,000 by 2021. I am pleased that Budget 2018 will facilitate the strengthening of the Reserve next year with new Reserves expected to commence training early in 2018 following the undertaking of a recruitment campaign earlier this year.
In conjunction with the major expansion of the Reserve over the next number of years we must ensure that it is used to optimum effect to support effective policing. To inform future decisions around the use of the Reserve An Garda Síochána is conducting a strategic review as a matter of priority with a view to completion before the end of this year. As a first step the Garda Executive has taken a decision to transfer the management of the Reserve from the Human Resource and People Development Directorate to the Assistant Commissioner with responsibility for Community Engagement. This is intended to ensure that its development and deployment is viewed more broadly through a community policing lens. This is a very welcome step as it is my strong view that the greatest dividend to be gained from the Reserve is in terms of a visible presence on the ground engaging with local communities.
The review will take cognisance of the changed environment in which the expanded Reserve will operate as the major reform programme that is underway is implemented. These reforms include the drive towards a medium term target of 20% civilians by 2021 to boost the management capacity of the organisation and to free up Gardaí to front-line policing duties, and also the phased implementation of the Divisional model of policing to enable resources to be deployed more efficiently to prevent and detect crime.