Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Questions (711)

Catherine Murphy


711. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice when she expects all Garda specialist training courses either held in Garda Headquarters or the Garda Training College to resume. [26834/20]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The administration and management of An Garda Síochána is by law a matter for the Garda Commissioner. This includes responsibilities for matters including recruitment and training of members.  These are not matters for which I am responsible as Minister.

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated public health restrictions, public access to the Garda College has been prohibited since 12 March 2020.  At that time, over 300 Garda trainees attested earlier than scheduled and sworn members of Garda College staff were deployed to operational duties in order to enhance Garda capacity to respond to that pandemic.

In relation to specialist training, I understand that it remains the case that all specialist training, with the exception of Firearms Training, was suspended on 16 March 2020 in the context of the pandemic.  I understand that this suspension remains in place at this time, notwithstanding the arrangements in place around the intake of new recruits.

However, I am aware that the Commissioner and the Executive have approved proposals put forwarded by the Garda College in relation to the re-commencement of training.  Included in that document was a list of seven (7) prioritised areas of crime specialist training as follows:-

- Specialist Victim Interviewing

- Investigative Interviewing

- SIO Programme

- D/Sergeant and D/Garda Training

- ASU/ERU Training

- Driver Training

- Firearms Training  (continued to be delivered during the Covid-19 situation)

In order to progress the above specialist training, the return of relevant Garda staff to the Garda College took place on the 31st August 2020.  Driver Instructors and the Garda College transport are next to be returned.

An Garda Síochána indicate that a definitive date cannot be provided at this point for resumption of all specialist raining, but that plans for resumption will be drawn up in the coming weeks and months, in line with Government and public health guidance. At present, the Garda College is moving towards delivery across the above prioritised areas of specialist training between now and year end.

The Deputy may also be aware that approximately 150 new recruits are undergoing training under a revised delivery method, in light of the current circumstances.  The first batch of approximately 75 commenced training on 25 May, and the second batch of 75 recruits commenced training on 22 June. 

The first intake are due to complete Phase I of their training at the Garda College on Friday 27 November 2020, following which it is anticipated that they will commence work in their new stations on Monday 30 November 2020.  The second intake are due to complete Phase I of their training at the Garda College on Friday 22 January 2021, following which it is anticipated that they will commence work in their new stations on Monday 25 January 2021. 

I understand that training consists of:

- 3 weeks on-line distance learning;

- 1 week residential at the Garda College;

- Weeks 5-16 assisting operational policing in allocated training stations in home divisions;

- Weeks 17-32 residential at the Garda College and attestation (all other things being equal).

I am further informed that the Garda College has put in place strict contingencies for the period during which recruits will attend the college and strict social distancing will be enforced for the duration.