I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána as at 31 March 2006 was 12,439. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June 1997 and represents an increase of 1,737 (or 16.2%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period.
I have been further informed that the personnel strength (all ranks) of the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) West Division as at 1 June 2006 was 679.
In addition, I would point out to the Deputy that the Dublin Metropolitan Region West Division's resources are further augmented by a number of Garda National Units such as the Garda National Drugs Unit, the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and other specialised units.
Garda management state that all members of the Force are tasked with enforcing the law in respect of drug related criminality. Currently, there are 28 Gardaí in the DMR West Division attached to the divisional and district drug units, who are supported and supplemented by members attached to the Garda National Drugs Unit, which has the national remit for enforcement of drug legislation. Local Garda management also states that they are satisfied that adequate resources are available to combat the drugs problem in the area.
Local Garda management also report that they are satisfied that the current allocation of resources is adequate to provide early responses to incidents reported by members of the public.
It is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Divisions on a priority basis in accordance with the requirements of different areas. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends, administrative functions and other operational policing needs. Such allocations are continually monitored and reviewed along with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy. This ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and that the best possible service is provided to the public.
I should add that the current recruitment drive to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members, in line with the commitment in the Agreed Programme for Government, is fully on target. This will lead to a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,000 by the end of this year. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the first group of newly attested Gardaí under the accelerated recruitment programme came on stream in March and a further 275 newly attested Gardaí will do so every 90 days thereafter.
The Garda Commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources, and in this context the needs of DMR West Division will be given the fullest consideration.