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Garda Operations

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 7 July 2020

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Questions (649)

Denise Mitchell


649. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to establish a task force similar to the one in Dublin's north inner city in the Dublin metropolitan region northern division. [14459/20]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Tackling serious crime in the North Dublin region is a priority for myself, my Department and across the whole of government.

The then Taoiseach and my predecessor as Minister previously met with the Garda Commissioner and members of his senior management team in relation to serious crime incidents in the DMR North and the coordinated response mounted by An Garda Síochána to tackle them - including community safety, intelligence and drugs and organised crime. I will continue to be regularly briefed by the Commissioner and senior Gardaí on progress made in relation to various investigations being handled by the Division, as my predecessor was.

Gardaí are undertaking significant activity to counter drug crime at the local level, supporting communities through various preventative and detection initiatives. This includes engagement with Local and Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Forces; the Garda Youth Diversion Programme and Projects; the Garda Schools Programme; the Joint Policing Committees and Community Policing Fora. Debt and debt intimidation are also getting focused attention: the Drug Related Intimidation Reporting Programme, developed by Gardaí and the National Family Support Network, has been in place since 2013 to respond to the needs of drug users and family members experiencing drug related intimidation.

In addition Garda resources in the Division have been increased significantly. I understand from the Garda authorities that there are 804 Gardaí assigned to the DMR North at the end of April 2020, representing a 20% increase compared to the end of 2015. Of these, there are 247 Gardaí assigned to the Coolock District representing a 25% increase compared to the end of 2015. Members in DMR include those assigned to Divisional specialist units such as Drugs and Community Policing. There are now also 62 Garda staff, an increase of 63% in the same time period. Taken together, this increase in the Garda workforce represents a very significant increase in operational policing hours in the DMR North. These Garda members and staff are of course supported and supplemented by personnel from the national and regional units, when required.

In relation to specific issues being experienced by some communities in the Division, l understand that liaison is ongoing with relevant stakeholders, including the Local Authorities, Tusla and the HSE.

Further, as the Deputy may be aware, Dublin City Council is examining the broad needs of the area including the need for a coordinated approach to address specific issues within the area. I understand that this work is ongoing and a report including recommendations is expected in the Autumn. As Minister, I am looking forward to reviewing the report and engaging with any recommendations falling within the remit of the Department.

Finally, I note that a key principle arising from the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing is that policing is not the responsibility of the police alone, but also involves other agencies of Government, such as health or social services, as well as other sectors of society. This principle is at the centre of a new policy on community safety which is being developed in my Department. The policy, which will be given a statutory basis in the new Policing and Community Safety Bill, proposes to establish and support a system of community safety at local level across the country. Through cross-sectoral collaboration, and by drawing on the available services, these systems will be best placed to identify, support and implement, community safety according to the needs of the local community.

Question No. 650 answered with Question No. 642.