Thursday, 10 December 2020

Questions (19)

Alan Dillon


19. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Justice the number of new Garda recruits and priorities to combat rural crime; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41277/20]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can assure the Deputy that I am very much aware of the impact of crime on rural communities and I am committed to ensuring that there is strong, visible community policing right across rural Ireland.

The Programme for Government, Our Shared Future , underlines the need for close engagement between An Garda Síochána and local communities. This is an essential feature of the strong community policing ethos which has long been central to policing in this jurisdiction. Consequently, the Programme for Government commits to prioritising visible policing in rural and urban communities.

An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021. This level of funding is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff.

There are now some 14,600 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide and Budget 2021 will allow for the recruitment of up to 620 new Gardaí and an extra 500 Garda staff. There will also be continued investment in the Garda Fleet of €8 million in addition to the highest ever investment of approximately €15 million in the Garda Transport Fleet in 2020 – a proportion of which relates to the Garda Covid response.

The Deputy may wish to note that the number of Community Gardaí assigned to the Mayo Division has increased, from 3 at the end of 2017, to 12 as of 31 October 2020.

The official categorisation as a Community Garda simply refers to those who are exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities and civil society including giving talks to schools, community groups and others. However, it is important to note that community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána and that all Gardaí have a role to play in community policing whilst performing their duties. This has never been more evident than in the work carried out by all members of the Gardaí as we have tackled the COVID-19 pandemic.

While An Garda Síochána have provided exceptional service in assisting the national effort to combat the threat of COVID-19, ordinary policing has also continued unabated throughout the pandemic.

The Winter Phase of Operation Thor began on 1 October 2020 and will run until the end of March 2021. Operation Thor is designed to specifically tackle the increase in the number of burglaries and associated criminal activity that usually occurs in the winter months by undertaking targeted enforcement and preventative activity. This initiative has successfully reduced the rate of winter burglaries, leading to a significant decline in property related crime since its introduction in 2015.

This initiative has successfully reduced the rate of residential burglaries at this time of year by 41% since its introduction in 2015.