Written answers

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Department of Justice and Equality

Crime Prevention

Photo of John LahartJohn Lahart (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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111. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the initiatives being taken to address knife crime; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36768/21]

Photo of James BrowneJames Browne (Wexford, Fianna Fail)
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I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to those who have been impacted by recent violent incidents. The Government is very conscious of the dangers presented by knife crime, and indeed all violent assaults. Clearly any stabbing has the potential to cause irreparable physical harm and tragic consequences and the Government is determined to ensure that similar problems to those which have developed in neighbouring jurisdictions do not develop here in Ireland.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Justice Plan 2021 contains a commitment to review Garda powers in relation to dangerous weapons, including knives, to ensure they have the necessary legal tools to protect our communities. My Department are also analysing existing data, as well as developing new sources of data, and looking at international best practice to inform policy in this area.

Minister McEntee and Commissioner Harris, who met earlier this year on the issue, also agreed that further analysis is needed to provide greater insights into the level of violent incidents in society. My Department and An Garda Síochána will remain in contact on the issue and will also engage with colleagues in public health on the matter.

I am planning to establish a subgroup of the Anti-Social Behaviour Forum, which I chair, to examine knife crime issues and to develop proposals for practical measures, including community-based programmes, and for consideration of legislative amendments, if deemed appropriate and necessary.

An Garda Síochána's ‘Use your brain, not your fists’ campaign highlights the dangers and consequences of any assault to both the victim and the attacker. The Garda Commissioner established Operation Soteria to ensure a reduction of assaults in public, reduce fear of assault within communities, prioritise assault investigations, and focus on problem areas and assault hotspots. The Operation includes targeting knife crimes in areas where it is shown to be relevant and necessary.

The Deputy will also be aware that my Department has published the General Scheme of the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill. The Bill will provide for a key principle from the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland that preventing crime and harm and making our communities safer does not rest with An Garda Síochána and my Department alone. It will be best achieved as a ‘whole of government’ responsibility, with Departments and agencies responsible for health and social services, education authorities and local authorities, the Gardaí and the wider community working together.

To this end, Local Community Safety Partnerships will be established in each local authority area which will draw up local Community Safety Plans to address issues of concern in their local area. This may include consideration of issues such as that raised by the Deputy. Three pilot projects are currently being established and will run for the next two years in Dublin's north inner city, Waterford and Longford ahead of a national rollout.


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