As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for managing An Garda Síochána including personnel matters.
Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.
The Deputy will be aware An Garda Síochána is currently undertaking a programme of accelerated recruitment, as part of the Government’s commitment to achieve an overall workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021, including 15,000 Garda members and 4,000 civilians. We are making real, tangible progress on achieving this goal.
I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that as of 30 April 2019, the total Garda strength was approximately 14,000. As of the same date, there were approximately 2,650 Garda Staff employed by An Garda Síochána undertaking a range of administrative and technical duties in the organisation. When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Armed Support Units, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
The Commissioner has further informed me that he plans to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019 and 600 Garda Civilian Staff. This Garda Staff recruitment will allow the Commissioner to redeploy a further 500 fully trained Gardaí from administrative duties to frontline policing in 2019.
The Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,800 recruits have attested as Members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide.
The Government remains committed to a vigorous and comprehensive response to burglary, theft and other property-related crime. Both urban and rural communities across the country will benefit from the significant injection of policing resources provided by the Government and the concentrated anti-crime drive coordinated under Operation Thor. The scale of Garda activity against burglary and property-related crime under Operation Thor has led to concentrated Garda activity. As of 7 May 2019, almost 201,000 targeted checkpoints and 356,400 crime prevention patrols have been conducted nationwide. To give you an idea of the impact of the Operation, I can inform you that this concentrated policing activity has produced in the region of 10,000 arrests and 11,600 charges covering a range of offences which, in addition to burglary, include handling stolen property, possession of firearms and drugs offences.
Operation Hybrid has been established to coordinate the response to violent crime in Dublin and address public safety concerns about community safety and benefits from significant support by Armed Support Units. The robust Garda response to the series of shootings perpetrated by violent criminals in Dublin has, as of 5 May 2019, seen 76,699 high visibility checkpoints implemented. In addition, a number of arrests have been made and weapons seized during the Operation.
I believe that the injection of a large number of experienced officers into the field, along with the new recruits, will be really beneficial in terms of protecting communities and I want to reassure you that criminal gangs that target all areas of the country and prey on communities, both urban and rural, are continuously monitored and relentlessly targeted by An Garda Síochána.