Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
331. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if the Garda Commissioner has plans to provide additional Garda personnel to Laytown, County Meath (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2816/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 331 and 403 together.
In accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is statutorily responsible for the management and control of An Garda Síochána and for the efficient use of resources. This includes responsibility for matters and deployment of resources. As Minister, I have no responsibility for these matters.
A detailed breakdown of personnel nationwide is available on my Department’s website and is updated every month with the latest data provided by An Garda Síochána. This information is available at the following link: .
Details in relation to the number of Garda staff are also available on my Department's website at the following link: .
The Deputy may wish to be aware that An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented €1.88 billion for 2020. 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 Gardaí nationwide, supported by over 2,900 Garda staff and these numbers are continuing to grow.
Specifically in relation to Meath, 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. This represents a significant increase in recent years: by contrast, in December 2015 there were a total of 277 Garda members and 26 Garda staff in the Division.
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.
In relation to the Deputy's query in relation to allocation of additional Gardaí, it is important to note that in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and as set out above, the Commissioner is responsible for management of an Garda Síochána and as such, decisions on assignment of Gardaí nationwide throughout 2020 are entirely a matter for the Commissioner. 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 ensure their optimum use.
At present the Stamullen area is located within the Laytown Sub-District, which in turn is part of Ashbourne District.
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.
I have nonetheless been informed that additional resources are being assigned to the Division and that, most recently on 24 February 2020, 14 trainee Garda members were allocated to Meath Division, six of whom were allocated to Ashbourne District. I am further informed that an additional five members had been allocated to Laytown Sub-District on 7 January 2020.
I am also informed that Laytown operates on a ‘paired’ system with Duleek, which enables a 24/7 service to be provided between the two Sub-Districts. Additional support is provided as required from Ashbourne Garda Station, which is operational 24/7. Further, the area is patrolled by Divisional Units such as the Divisional Roads Policing Unit and the Divisional Drugs Unit as required.
Finally, I can assure the Deputy that the number of Gardaí allocated nationwide, including in Meath, is kept under regular review by the Commissioner and that the Garda authorities have indicated to me that it is intended to allocate further resources as they become available under the new Operating Model.