The Deputy will be aware that the Government has, in its Programme for a Partnership Government, recognised the importance of community policing. It commits the Government to ensuring visible, effective and responsive policing in every community throughout the country in order to provide reassurance to citizens and prevent crime. This commitment is underlined by very significant investments in Garda resources.
However, as the Deputy will appreciate, the specific policing and investigative strategies which may be employed in particular circumstances are a matter for the Commissioner and her management team and I do not have a direct role in this regard. In this regard, the Policing Plan of An Garda Síochána sets out the continued commitment of An Garda Síochána to pro-actively target groups and individuals engaged in organised crime activity including drug crime. I am advised that the National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau continues to lead out the policing strategy for tackling drugs by demand reduction and supply reduction strategies. The Bureau continues its policy of working with Divisional Drug Units nationwide in tackling supply reduction at local level.
I am advised that community policing continues to be a key aspect of the Garda approach to the prevention and detection of crime. Gardaí engage with a wide range of community based groups, as well in more formal settings such as Joint Policing Committees, to ensure that local issues can be aired and appropriate partnerships formed with communities to address matters of concern. Gardaí also support over 3,700 Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch Schemes nationwide, and these form an important partnership with An Garda Síochána to prevent crime and protect communities, especially the elderly and more vulnerable persons. In addition, the Garda Text Alert Scheme provides an effective means for Gardaí to communicate crime prevention information to local communities.
On 9 June 2016, the Garda Commissioner launched a five year programme to professionalise, modernise and renew An Garda Síochána, to ensure that it can meet present and future policing and security challenges. An important principle included in the plan is increased Garda visibility, with crime prevention being the number one priority. The Garda modernisation plan was developed with the benefit of inputs from Garda personnel and community stakeholders, as well as the experience of police forces in other jurisdictions. The measures in the plan also respond to reports and recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
In conclusion, all Garda activities, including community policing, will undoubtedly benefit from the resources now coming on stream through the Garda recruitment programme, and in particular the Government's commitment to increase Garda numbers to 15,000, so that An Garda Síochána has the capacity to address the needs of communities throughout the country and into the future.