This Government has one fundamental strategy in the area of criminal justice which is to ensure that the gardaí will be given the resources to investigate and prevent crime, the courts will be well equipped to deal effectively with criminal cases, and that there will be sufficient prison places to ensure that those convicted of crime will serve their sentences.
The Government is prioritising Garda recruitment and training to bring it up to its authorised strength of 12,200 as soon as possible. In accordance with the agreed programme for Government, these extra gardaí will be assigned to the areas of greatest need. The number of gardaí will be higher again as soon as budgetary circumstances permit the Government to make progress towards the target of 14,000 provided in the programme for Government for achievement by 2007.
Tackling crime effectively requires that the courts are equipped to provide speedy and efficient trials. Overall support for the courts has been greatly improved in recent years by the establishment of the independent Courts Service. The Courts Service has devoted a great deal of effort to streamlining the administrative supports for the courts including the introduction of modern IT systems where appropriate. A recent very important initiative taken by the Courts Service Board was the establishment of a working group which is undertaking a root and branch look at the organisation of our courts. The group is to examine any necessary changes to allow for the fair, expeditious and economic administration of justice – including the creation of new, or the alteration of existing, jurisdictions.