Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Department of Justice and Equality
273. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the degree to which he remains satisfied that adequate resources continue to be made available for combatting organised crime and the activity of criminal gangs; the extent of the success of such measures over the past year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52038/17]
As I have assured the Deputy previously, targeting organised crime continues to be an on-going priority for the Government and An Garda Síochána.
An Garda Síochána is tackling organised criminal activity through a range of targeted measures designed to disrupt and dismantle the operations of criminal organisations utilising advanced analytical and intelligence methodologies. This involves targeting serious criminals and organised criminal groups on a number of fronts and across all geographical locations.
This is achieved through the use of focused intelligence led operations by Garda specialist units, including the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, the National Economic Crime Bureau and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations. When required, support from the Security and Intelligence Section is also available. These specialist units also work closely with the Criminal Assets Bureau in targeting persons involved in such criminality.
It can be seen therefore that multi-disciplinary approaches are used by An Garda Síochána to ensure the activities of individuals and groups involved in criminal enterprise are effectively targeted. Such approaches also include the use of money-laundering legislation and the powers available to the Criminal Assets Bureau under the proceeds of crime legislation.
In this regard, the Deputy might recall the new powers introduced under the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2016 which provides for Bureau Officers, subject to certain conditions, to immediately seize and detain property for a 24 hour period. Provision is also made for this period to be extended upon the authorisation of the Chief Bureau Officer, subject to certain conditions, for a further period not exceeding 21 days. In this context, the Act also lowered the thresholds applicable to seizures by reducing the value of property involved from €13,000 to €5,000. In addition, new regulations were made to reduce the prescribed amount of cash suspected of being the proceeds of crime which can be seized, from €6,500 to €1,000.
I am advised by the Commissioner that a competition to fill vacancies for Sergeants and Gardaí at the Units comprising Special Crime Operations was completed at the end of 2016 and additional Sergeants and Gardaí are being allocated to these Units, on a phased basis, most recently in August, with a further tranche following the next attestation of new Gardaí to take place later this week.
The capacity of Garda management to allocate additional resources to specialist units is a result of the significant investment in personnel to which the Government is committed under its Five Year Reform and High Level Workforce Plan for An Garda Síochána.
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. I look forward to attending the attestation 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.
The Capital Plan 2016–2021 provides for an investment of €46 million in the Garda fleet to ensure that the Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime. This is in addition to the investment of almost €30 million in the period 2013 to 2015.
Some €330 million, including €205 million under the Capital Plan, is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021. This major investment will allow An Garda Síochána to deploy the latest cutting edge technologies in the fight against crime and will facilitate progress on important reforms arising from the Garda Inspectorate's report on Crime Investigation.
A total budget of €1.65 billion has been provided to An Garda Síochána in 2018, an increase of 2% on 2017 and includes almost €100 million for Garda overtime.
The Deputy will also be aware that the Garda operational responses to gang-related crime in Dublin are coordinated under Operation Hybrid. As of 31 October 2017, there have been 71 arrests in relation to gang-related killings, with 8 persons charged in connection with those murders and a further 3 persons charged with related offences. In addition, 30 firearms have been seized and over 14,260 lines of enquiry conducted. In excess of 44,490 high visibility checkpoints have been implemented with significant support from Armed Support Units and a significant amount of CCTV footage, mobile phone traffic, and forensic evidence is also being examined. Operation Hybrid is reviewed on a weekly basis to maintain optimal impact.