I can assure the Deputy that the Government is committed to ensuring that there is strong, visible policing throughout the country.
The Deputy will be aware that, in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, which includes decisions on the deployment of personnel among the various Garda Divisions. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.
The budget provided by Government to the Garda Commissioner continues to increase to unprecedented levels, with an allocation of over €2 billion for 2022. An Garda Síochána has a strong tradition of community engagement and visible policing, and this funding demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that An Garda Síochána has the resources required to build on this high level of engagement and to ensure our communities are safe.
In this regard, I was pleased to attend the Garda College in Templemore on 19 May, where 101 new Garda members passed-out. These new members have now completed their training and will be assigned to Garda Divisions throughout the country. A further attestation will take place at the College on 8 July.
As the Deputy may be aware, a Garda recruitment competition recently closed and I was pleased to see the strong interest evident in the over 11,000 applications which were received. It is vital that everyone in our society sees members of their own communities serving in An Garda Síochána and I particularly welcome that 40% of applicants were women and that there is a notable increase in numbers applying from minority backgrounds including Travellers and people from our new Irish communities. Successful candidates from this competition will begin entering the Garda college later this year, and the new panel will provide the capacity for continued recruitment into next year.
In addition, and as a result of the increasing levels of recruitment of Garda staff to the organisation, over 800 Garda members to date have also been reassigned to frontline policing duties in recent years, where their expertise and training can be best utilised to provide visible policing to our communities.
Very significant capital investment is being made in An Garda Síochána, including the provision for a capital budget of €147 million for An Garda Síochána’s ICT and Building Programme and ongoing investment in the organisation’s transport fleet.
Budget 2022 provides €12m for investment in the Garda fleet, which means more high-visibility policing in our towns and cities. This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet and that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.
An Garda Síochána continues to implement high visibility policing plans to address public disorder related issues and anti-social behaviour, with particular overt and targeted policing of public places at times when public order incidents and anti-social behaviour typically increase, such as bank holiday weekends.
The Deputy will appreciate that, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the landscape of issues faced by An Garda Síochána is changing. For example, the increase in fraud offences shows that policing does not only take place on the streets, it must also put a focus on cyber-related crimes.
Finally, and of great benefit to the delivery of modern policing services in the community, the Garda Commissioner is in the course of introducing the new Garda Operating Model which, in line with the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, is designed to make changes to the structures of An Garda Síochána to provide for more frontline Gardaí, increased Garda visibility, and a wider range of policing services for people in their local area.