Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
Garda Station Refurbishment
330. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if plans have been discussed with him or his officials relating to the redevelopment of the east Meath Garda station; if a new Garda station has been discussed at any point to deal with the huge increase in population in the east Meath settlement over recent times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2771/20]
The Garda Commissioner is statutorily responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of resources. As Minister, I have no responsibility for these matters. I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to their optimum use.
As the Deputy is aware, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. Works in relation to Garda accommodation are therefore progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the OPW.
The Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021 is based on agreed Garda priorities. It continues to benefit over 30 locations around the country, underpinned by significant Exchequer funding across the Garda and OPW Votes.
I understand from the supplementary information provided by the Deputy that he refers in particular to Laytown. The programme does not include building works at Laytown Garda Station and I am informed by the Garda authorities that no works are ongoing or are planned for that station at this time.
As the Deputy will be aware, the resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation for 2020 of €1.88 billion. This level of funding is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff and as a result, An Garda Síochána is a growing organisation. We now have approximately 14,300 Garda members nationwide, supported by over 2,900 Garda staff and these numbers continue to grow.
Extensive information is available on my Department’s website in relation to the numbers of Garda members and their assignment nationwide at the following link: . This information is updated every month with the latest data provided by An Garda Síochána. Details in relation to the number of Garda staff nationwide are also available on my Department's website at the following link:
The Garda authorities have pointed out that ratios such as the number of Garda members per head of population are not an appropriate tool to use when considering the allocation of Garda resources, as they do not take account of other factors including, for example, the fact that crime levels and types can vary significantly among communities of similar population size.
Nonetheless I can confirm that there has been a significant increase in Garda resources in Meath in recent years. I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of the end of January 2020, a total of 324 Garda members were assigned to the Meath Division, in addition to 41 Garda staff. By contrast, in December 2015 there were a total of 277 Garda members and 26 Garda staff in the Division. I understand that further resources were most recently allocated to Meath Division on 24 February 2020, when 14 trainee Garda members were allocated to Meath Division. Six of these were allocated to Ashbourne District, in which Laytown is located.
The Deputy may also be interested to know that the rollout by the Garda Commissioner of the new Garda Operating Model meets a key commitment in A Policing Service for the Future, the four-year implementation plan giving effect to the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. This model has been long recommended by independent policing specialists, including the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and while new to Ireland, it is the standard in other countries. The new Operating Model is designed to provide a more responsive, localised policing service to communities and it streamlines Garda administration and re-organises resources in order to do so.
I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the Meath Division is one of four Divisions earmarked for the introduction of the new Operating Model during the current year. I am confident that adoption by the Commissioner of this new structure will lead to an improved policing service in Meath as well as in other communities nationwide.