Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (286)

John Curran

Question:

286. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to develop an inter-agency model involving An Garda Síochána, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Probation Service and the Revenue Commissioners to profile and target career criminals that are alleged local senior criminals at the highest levels within their communities but do not have many criminal convictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53278/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Tackling organised crime, and targeting those involved in it, is an ongoing priority for the Government and An Garda Síochána.

Multi-disciplinary approaches are used by An Garda Síochána to ensure the activities of individuals and groups involved in criminality are effectively targeted. Such approaches include the use of money-laundering legislation and focused intelligence-led operations by Garda specialist units, including the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, the National Economic Crime Bureau, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations with support as required from the Security and Intelligence section.

In addition, An Garda Síochána and the other agencies referred to by the Deputy consult closely with one another including the Joint Agency Response to Crime (JARC).

It may also be noted that the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is a multi-agency statutory body established under the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996. The Bureau’s remit is to target a person's assets, wherever situated, which derive, or are suspected to derive, directly or indirectly, from criminal conduct. Since its inception, the Bureau has been at the forefront of fighting organised crime in this jurisdiction and disrupting the activities of criminal gangs by depriving them of ill-gotten assets.

Officers of the Bureau are comprised of members of An Garda Síochána, Officers of the Revenue Commissioners and Officers of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The Bureau is widely regarded as a best practice model in the context of combating organised crime. Its structure and powers have been modelled by other jurisdictions. It works closely with law enforcement bodies at national and international levels and continues to relentlessly pursue the illicit proceeds of organised crime activity. The actions of the Bureau send a strong message to criminals and to local communities that profiting from crime won't be tolerated. CAB has been allocated the resources necessary to ensure its effectiveness and the recent expansion and development of the Divisional Asset Profiler Network now includes some 378 trained profilers throughout the State. These are key local level personnel who support the development and progress of investigations.

The Joint Agency Response to Crime (JARC) programme is a strategic offender management initiative led by An Garda Síochána, the Probation Service and the Irish Prison Service with active support and engagement of my own Department. It aims to develop and strengthen a multi-agency approach to the management of prolific offenders; prioritise such offenders for targeted interventions and supports to address their behaviour and through this work reduce crime and victimisation in local communities.  An initial evaluation into the effectiveness of this programme was carried out in 2018 and has shown very promising evidence that it is an effective approach for such offenders.  

I am open to considering any other specific recommendations that the Deputy or others would like to put forward for new approaches to tackling the issues raised.

Finally, it is important to say that An Garda Síochána is also being provided with record investment to ensure it is adequately resourced to effectively tackle organised crime. €1.76 bullion has been allocated to the Garda Vote for 2019, and this is increasing to an unprecedented €1.882 billion for 2020. Supported by these record investments, An Garda Síochána is a growing organisation with over 14,300 Gardaí nationwide supported by over 2,900 Garda staff. The growing workforce means An Garda Síochána is providing a more visible policing service throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.