Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (584, 585, 587)

Shane Ross

Question:

584. Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the policing plan he has in place for the Stepaside area, if and when the closure of Stepaside Garda Station goes ahead; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8777/13]

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Shane Ross

Question:

585. Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the numbers of community Gardaí he intends to assign to the Stepaside area, if and when the closure of Stepaside Garda Station goes ahead; the number of Garda cars that will operate in the area; the number of additional garda cars that will be allocated to the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8778/13]

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Shane Ross

Question:

587. Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has decided on a date for the proposed closure of Stepaside Garda Station; his plans to notify locals in the area of this date in advance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8780/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 584, 585 and 587 together.

The decision to close 100 Garda stations in 2013 was the result of a comprehensive operational assessment carried out by the Garda Commissioner over a 12 month period and contained in his Policing Plan 2013, which I laid before the House in November last. The Policing Plan outlines the Commissioner's proposals for the continued reorganisation and consolidation of the Garda station and district network.

It is a matter for the Garda Commissioner to make a final decision on the date of closure of Stepaside Garda Station and I have no function in that regard.

The Deputy will be aware that Stepaside is in the Blackrock District in the Dublin Metropolitan Eastern Division. It is approximately 8 km from the District Headquarters at Blackrock Garda Station and approximately 6 km from Dundrum Garda Station. As of 31 January 2013, there are 35 members of An Garda Síochána assigned to the Stepaside Garda Station. The Commissioner has indicated that these members will, insofar as possible, remain in the Blackrock District. The majority will be allocated to Dundrum Garda Station and some will be allocated to Blackrock Garda Station.

The objective of modernising and re-calibrating the Garda station network is to ensure that Garda resources are used in the best and most efficient way possible, in both rural and urban areas, to the benefit of all law-abiding people who reside in this State. The freeing up of Gardaí from desk duties in Stepaside Garda Station will increase the number of Gardaí available for frontline policing to the benefit of the community there. Nationally, revised policing arrangements will result in an additional 61,000 operational policing hours in 2013.

The implementation of the reduction in the number of Garda stations and Districts will take place in full consultation with the local communities and staffing interests. Local Garda management have engaged and will continue to engage with communities through the Joint Policing Committees and other fora to advise them of the revised policing arrangements following the closure of any particular Garda station. The objective is to ensure that the best possible policing service is provided to the public at all times.

Decisions in relation to the provision and deployment of both Garda personnel and transport are matters for the Garda Commissioner. Responsibility for the efficient deployment of official Garda vehicles in each Division is assigned to the Divisional Officer, who may allocate vehicles between stations, as required by operational circumstances. I understand, however, that of the new vehicles coming on stream, 22 of these will be allocated to the Dublin Metropolitan Region. A more detailed breakdown is not currently available and the Deputy will appreciate that a degree of flexibility in allocating and re-allocating vehicles among stations, so as to best match the allocation of resources with policing priorities, is essential to the efficient management of the Garda fleet.

The closure of any particular Garda Station will not affect the procedure for the Garda response to emergency calls which will continue as it is at present e.g. in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (which includes Stepaside) the call to 999 or 112 will initially be taken by BT, who operate the Emergency Calls Answering Service, and then, if the emergency requires An Garda Síochána, referred immediately to the Garda Command and Control Centre in Harcourt Square. The Command and Control Centre will direct the necessary Garda resources to the location of the emergency. This is done without reference to a Garda station.

In the case of an emergency requiring an urgent Garda response, such as a danger to life or risk of serious injury, a crime in progress or about to happen or an offender still at the scene or just left, members of the public should call 999 or 112. Other Crimes should be reported directly to the nearest Garda Station.