Other Questions. - Garda SMI Report.

Colm M. Hilliard

Question:

9 Mr. Hilliard asked the Minister for Justice when the strategic management initiative report on the Garda Síochána will be available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9157/97]

Michael McDowell

Question:

26 Mr. M. McDowell asked the Minister for Justice when she expects to receive the consultant's report on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9194/97]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 9 and 26 together.

The SMI steering group has almost completed its consideration of the report of the consultants engaged by it on the SMI review of the Garda Síochána and will shortly be submitting its own report and recommendations to the Government. This will be done, in accordance with the normal process for such reports, through the Department of the Taoiseach.

Is the Minister committed to the implementation of the SMI? Will savings result from it?

I have no idea. The review is being carried out under the chairmanship of a very eminent businessperson and involves a number of other eminent people. They have carried out a root and branch examination of the role of the Garda as it approaches next millennium. I do not know yet what restructuring the group will recommend but it is difficult to say when change takes place if savings will be made. I hope the changes they recommend will improve the way the Garda does its work.

Should there be a policy whereby the Garda would devote the vast majority of its time to policing? Did the Minister include this as one of the initiative's terms of reference to see if more time could be devoted to policing by certain sections of the Garda which presently carry out bureaucratic functions? Is she of the view that there are certain other functions presently being carried out by the Garda which could be civilianized?

I want any garda hired to devote all of his or her time to policing. It is wrong to give the impression that just because a garda might by in an office doing bureaucratic work, he or she is not carrying out a policing function. A great deal of crime investigation takes place in offices. Evidence which has been gathered has to be trawled through and this cannot be done on the street. Policing is more than just walking the beat. It involves a range of expertise and a dedication to duty. I assure the Deputy I am continuing a process of civilianization and there are approximately 700-800 civilianized jobs in the Garda already. In last year's crime package resources for another 200 civilian posts were provided and some of those have been taken up. We are continuing to fill the remainder of those. I will continue to civilianize where appropriate to ensure more gardaí are available for deployment for operational police work.