Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Questions (51)

Bernard Durkan


51. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extra number of gardaí graduating from the training college at Templemore; the degree to which he expects such available numbers to be made available in all areas nationally, with particular reference to those areas experiencing pressure from the activities of criminal gangs or to address reductions in the force over the past number of years since the training college closed down in 2008, especially in areas of burgeoning population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26838/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for managing An Garda Síochána including personnel matters.

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.

Approximately 2,800 Garda recruits have successfully completed training and attested as members of An Garda Síochána since the reopening of the Garda College in 2014. This has seen an increase in the number of Garda members to just over 14,000 at the end of 2018, a net increase of over 1,000 since the end of 2016. Approximately 400 Garda recruits have passed out of the Garda Training College and been assigned to mainstream policing duties nationwide to date in 2019, and a further 200 trainees are due to attest before year end.

The Garda Commissioner has informed me that he intends to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019. I have been assured by the Garda Commissioner that this level of recruitment of Garda members planned for 2019 will ensure that, taking account of projected retirements, the Government's commitment to increasing the strength of An Garda Síochána to 15,000 Garda members by 2021 remains on target. I further welcome the Garda Commissioner’s decision to recruit a net 600 Garda staff in 2019. The recruitment of these additional Garda staff will allow the Commissioner to redeploy a further 500 Gardaí from administrative duties to visible frontline policing duties in 2019.

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.

With regard to the on-going, highly volatile feud in Drogheda, Garda Operation Stratus was established. This operation consists of high visibility patrols and checkpoints, days of action and covert policing initiatives, targeting specific parties to the feud. Extra resources have also been assigned to the area with 30 recruits being assigned to the Louth area from the most recent Garda attestation on the 7 June.

Kildare has also seen a significant increase in the number of Gardaí assigned to the Division. Excluding the DMR, Louth and Kildare have been assigned the largest number of recruits since the reopening of the Garda college with 136 and 118 respectively. Kildare, as a Dublin hinterland, has seen the largest increase in its workforce since 2009 with 74 more Gardaí since 2009. Louth has had the third largest increase at 42.

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.