Written Answers. - Garda Deployment.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

21 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the action he proposes to take to increase the number of gardaí available for patrol and other duties in the absence of the 2,000 extra gardaí promised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17165/03]

I am currently considering a number of measures to strengthen the operational capacity of the Garda Síochána.

As I have previously informed this House, the Cabinet has authorised me to make the greatest possible use of the existing capacity of the Garda Training College in Templemore over the next two years to bring the strength of the force to 12,200, its current authorised maximum strength. While it will not be possible to increase numbers beyond that point for as long as the cap on public service numbers remains in place, this in itself will represent an all time record level of strength.

A range of factors determine the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. I want to emphasise that I am committed to supporting the Garda Síochána in every way I can in tackling crime, not only through increasing Garda numbers, but through facilitating and promoting change and reform, both within the force and in the criminal justice system in general, aimed at meeting the challenges of present day crime.

I am, for example, finalising proposals for legislative change to significantly improve Garda powers of criminal investigation, and to both free up and supplement Garda resources to enable them to be concentrated on front line policing activities.

I also intend to press ahead, as quickly as circumstances permit, with the civilianisation, on a phased basis, of up to 496 technical and administrative posts occupied by gardaí to allow for the release of Garda members to operational policing.