This is a comprehensive question on which I will try to provide as much information as possible. I will also circulate figures in a table.
The Central Statistics Office, CSO, as the national statistics agency, is responsible for the publication of the official recorded crime statistics. These figures are published quarterly and I have provided the Deputy with a summary table of the trends in the main crime categories over the past ten years. It is perhaps worth noting that correlations only tell us a very high level story and do not tell us about cause and effect. Therefore, any analysis based solely on correlations should be viewed very carefully.
As the Deputy is well aware, a variety of factors may underlie the incidence of crime, including broader societal issues such as substance abuse - an issue I referred to a moment ago - and socioeconomic disadvantage as well as the activities of international criminal groups. It is clear, however, that the provision and deployment of policing resources is an indispensable part of our response to all categories of crime. One of the points made by the Garda Inspectorate and one about which the Policing Authority is concerned is the need to ensure Garda deployment is based on need and crime levels in various areas. The Government remains committed to providing the greatest level of support to An Garda Síochána.
The Garda Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of policing resources to combat the incidence of crime and I have no direct role in such matters. I am advised that the allocation of resources is constantly monitored in the context of all new and emerging crime trends. This can be seen, for example, in the north inner city of Dublin where considerable demands are made on policing. We also have the armed response unit in Dublin. There is a substantial level of policing available throughout the country. Increased Garda visibility and more frequent checkpoints have been very important factors in reducing road deaths.
In terms of promoting best policing practice, the Garda Inspectorate was established to ensure the resources available to the Garda Síochána are used to achieve and maintain the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness, with reference to the best standards of comparable police services.
As I indicated, I will meet Kathleen O'Toole, the chair of the new commission on policing, and I have no doubt some of these issues will be central to the commission's work. As the Deputy is aware, the commission will be able to make recommendations on a rolling basis over the next year.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
Many of recommendations made in recent reports by the Garda Inspectorate are being taken forward as part of the Garda modernisation and renewal programme. A good example of the effective use of the considerable resources the Government is providing can be seen in Operation Thor, which has led to a steady decrease in the rate of burglary and related crime since it was established in November 2015. The full year crime figures for 2016 show a 30% decrease compared with 2015.
Underpinning all these measures is the Government's commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country and achieving an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021, comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Garda Reserve members and 4,000 civilians.