Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Department of Justice and Equality
271. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which he expects extra gardaí to be deployed to the various stations throughout County Kildare over the Christmas period and thereafter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52036/17]
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. 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.
The Garda strength of the Kildare Division on 31 October 2017 was 354. There are also 20 Garda Reserves and 30 Garda civilian staff attached to the Division. When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Armed Support Units, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
As the Deputy will be aware 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 to deter crime. To achieve this the Government has put in place a plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. We are making real, tangible progress on achieving this goal.
I am informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, close to 1,400 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, 72 of whom have been assigned to the Kildare Division. I look forward to attending the graduation of another 200 trainee Garda on Friday which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end - a net increase of 500 since the end of 2016.
I am also pleased that Budget 2018 maintains this high level of investment in the Garda workforce and ensure that the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. A further 800 new Garda Recruits will enter the Garda College. This will see Garda numbers reach the 14,000 mark by the end of 2018.
In addition a further 500 civilians will also be recruited to fill critical skills gaps across the organisation and to facilitate the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and technical duties to front-line operational duties. There are plans to strengthen the Garda Reserve with new Reserves expected to commence training early in 2018.
This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána. We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Garda Division, including the Kildare Division, in the coming years.
Very significant resources have been provided to An Garda Síochána, including an overtime allocation of €100 million announced in Budget 18, to support large-scale policing operations including Operation Thor, which is active in every Garda Division including the Kildare Division. Operation Thor involves a broad range of activities to tackle organised crime gangs and other prolific offenders as well as working with communities to prevent crime, including rural crime.
We have also invested heavily in the Garda fleet, with over 720 new vehicles coming on stream since the start of 2015 and a provision of €46 million for new Garda vehicles under the Capital Plan 2016-2021.
These additional investments in policing make it possible to maintain and extend a range of intensive policing operations, including the continued targeting of burglaries and related crime via Operation Thor.
I am advised that a number of Garda initiatives are planned for the winter months including planned days of action around targets and areas as predicated by crime trends and analysis provided by the Garda Síochána Analysis Service and other covert and overt policing initiatives.