I have been informed by the Garda authorities who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that great emphasis is placed on foot patrols by local management within the Dublin metropolitan region. It is Garda policy to ensure that as many personnel as possible are engaged on foot patrols and as further personnel resources become available, they are assigned to foot patrol duty. Foot patrols are carried out at retail centres, areas of high density of traffic and areas where public order issues arise, and are continually reviewed to ensure they are addressing the policing needs of an area. In addition to routine foot patrols, dedicated foot patrols are also in place by way of various operations and initiatives which are ongoing and focus on areas of high crime levels. Garda management in the Dublin metropolitan region is satisfied that adequate personnel and resources are currently in place to meet the present policing needs of the region.
With regard to the recruitment of additional gardaí, 690 Garda trainees were taken into the Garda college during 2003. The Commissioner has projected, based on the anticipated rate of retirement, that the maximum authorised force strength of 12,200 will be achieved2004.
I have already made it quite clear that I will not be content with raising the strength of the Garda Síochána to this historic high by the end of 2004. As soon as budgetary circumstances permit I intend, with the approval of the Government, to make progress towards the target of 14,000 provided in the programme for Government.