Tuesday, 28 July 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
775. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No: 967 of 14 July 2020, her plans to increase the penalties and sanctions for those convicted of dog theft; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18375/20]
802. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will create a legal distinction between the theft of an animal and the theft of other property including a more serious penalty for such an offence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18737/20]
811. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the additional measures and sentences she plans to introduce the counteract the growing trend of stolen animals; the current fines and prison sentences aligned to the theft of family animals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18918/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 775, 802 and 811 together.
I can inform the Deputy that there is already comprehensive legislation in place to address crimes of theft and fraud. The Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 provides for offences of theft, the handling of stolen property and the possession of stolen property. The offence of theft provided for by this legislation would, based on the broad nature of the offence, include the theft of dogs. A maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment is provided for in the case of offences of theft and handling of stolen property; while a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment is provided for the offence of possession of stolen property.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that An Garda Síóchána closely monitors emerging crime trends, and that the Garda National Crime Prevention Unit coordinates a number of crime prevention initiatives aimed at reducing crime. These initiatives include Crime Prevention Information Campaigns through traditional and social media. Recently information has been disseminated to the Crime Prevention Officers Network countrywide specifically dealing with the topic of dog thefts. The National Crime Prevention Units advice on pet safety concur with the advice from animal welfare groups and animal insurance companies about keeping animals safe.
Ongoing patrols throughout the country act as a deterrent to travelling criminals and thereby prevent criminal activity. Improved awareness of dog thefts among the community will ensure more vigilance within neighbourhood watch and community alert areas.
As part of ongoing efforts to keeping communities and property safe, An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.88 billion for 2020, as well as capital funding of over €116 million this year. 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. Garda numbers are now at their highest ever, with approximately 14,700 members and almost 3,000 Garda staff nationwide.