Garda trainees are attested to the force on successful completion of phase three of their training. On attestation, a Garda trainee becomes a serving member of the force with full Garda powers. Formal graduation takes place following the completion of the fifth and final phase of training. The serving strength of the force at any given time, therefore, includes those who have been attested following completion of phase three of their training but have not yet formally graduated. The strength of the force as at 25 October 2004 was 12,108, all ranks. When an additional 190 gardaí are attested on 26 November, the force strength, already at a record high, will have reached or exceeded 12,200.
With regard to Garda resources generally, I am very pleased that the Government has approved my proposal to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members on a phased basis, in line with the An Agreed Programme for Government commitment in this regard. This is a key commitment in the programme for Government and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.
The Commissioner will now draw up plans on how best to distribute and manage these resources. Clearly, however, the additional resources will be targeted at the areas of greatest need, as is envisaged in the programme for Government. The programme identifies areas with a significant drugs problem and a large number of public order offences in particular, but it will be possible to address other priorities as well, such as the need to significantly increase the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties. I have already promised that the additional gardaí will not be put on administrative duties. They will be put directly into front-line, operational, high visibility policing. They will have a real impact.