I thank the joint committee for the invitation to meet it. Since our last appearance before it in February, An Garda Síochána has continued to implement the Government's plan, A Policing Service for the Future, as well as delivering on our core mission to keep the people of Ireland safe. Keeping people safe is a guiding principle on which we base our strategic and operational decisions. My vision for An Garda Síochána is very much a victim-centred police service which protects the most vulnerable and provides a consistently high standard of service, all set within a human rights framework.
A Policing Service for the Future is the foundation for An Garda Síochána in delivering on that vision. For the communities we serve, I emphasis because I do not get to say it enough that it will mean more gardaí on the front line and increased visibility; a more responsive policing service suited to local needs; gardaí equipped with modern technology to prevent and tackle crime; a human-rights based approach to policing; and strengthened national security. For our own people, Garda members and staff, it will mean tools and supports, including a new operational uniform and mobile technology to keep the public and members safe, to include, from yesterday's announcement, the introduction of body-worn video and enhanced automatic number plate recognition, ANPR, and CCTV systems; greater training and welfare supports; a transparent and manifestly fair promotion and appointment system for specialisms; and Government agencies working with us to address deep-seated societal problems.
A Policing Service for the Future is a multi-annual project, but nearly six months into its implementation we and, more importantly, the public are already seeing some of the benefits. So far this year, we have introduced the following changes: the roll-out of computer-aided dispatch and regional control rooms; the roll-out of our investigation management system has commenced; over 100 gardaí have moved into front-line duties from administrative-type roles; over 350 Garda staff have joined the organisation; and 100 new Garda Reserve members have been recruited and are close to finishing their training programme. This builds on considerable progress made in 2018 in important areas such as Garda visibility, civilianisation or workforce modernisation and supervision. Last year over 1,000 people joined An Garda Síochána, bringing diverse experience and skills. That figure included 800 gardaí. A total of 250 gardaí moved into front-line operational duties from administrative roles, while there was the introduction of divisional protective service units to assist in the investigation of crimes, particularly against the vulnerable, such as domestic abuse, serious sexual assault and human trafficking. In addition, in late 2018 and into early 2019, there were almost 500 promotions to sergeant and inspector level which have greatly boosted our supervisory capacity, as well as allowing movement within the organisation for those who are ambitious. This increase in our supervisory capacity has had a dramatic impact on operational delivery. This was a key concern in the internal cultural audit of staff to ensure we had sufficient managers to ensure the delivery of a professional service to communities through managing, guiding, supporting and mentoring gardaí.
It is clear from successive Garda public attitudes surveys that the public have a high level of satisfaction with the service we provide for local communities. People also generally have a low level of fear of crime in their local area and, at 90% in our latest survey, a high level of trust in An Garda Síochána. We do not take this for granted, but there are many other police services across the world which would love to have similar results in an attitude survey. However, we can always improve and a priority of A Policing Service for the Future is to further strengthen the connection we have with communities. This will be done primarily through our divisional policing model which will bring policing even closer to communities. It will do this by delegating greater autonomy and authority to chief superintendents and superintendents to make decisions on how they use their resources to deal with the issues of most concern in their local command areas. At the same time, it frees up these same officers, chief superintendents and superintendents, from administrative tasks and allows them to concentrate more on local delivery of the policing service. In addition, it will see the introduction of community policing teams that will focus on identifying the problems for local communities and how they, as teams working with other agencies, can put solutions, I hope for the long term, in place. In designing this, we have taken careful note of the committee's recent report of March 2019 on the subject of community policing and rural crime. It will also see additional gardaí on the front line by replacing Garda staff in administrative roles; improved support for investigations; and a more streamlined administration system. We have been piloting these divisional policing models in Galway, Mayo, Cork and DMR south central. So far, reports are good, but these are pilot schemes that have been designed to identify where further improvements can be made.
As stated by the Commission on the Future of Policing, human rights must be central in how we deliver policing. It provides a tried and tested framework for how we can collectively approach operational dilemmas and use our coercive powers in a manner which promotes public confidence. In implementation of A Policing Service for the Future we have set up a human rights unit, re-established our strategic human rights advisory council and employed an independent human rights expert, while further individuals will be employed to support the human rights unit. Being a human rights compliant organisation will ultimately depend on our behaviour as a collective and the manner in which we deliver our policing service. Every Garda member and member of staff has an obligation in that regard. Individual responsibility can ensure a high level of organisational compliance. Human rights are not an optional extra. They are the foundation for delivering a policing service that will have the respect and confidence of the community. They need to be front and centre in all of our policing considerations and at the core of our decision-making.
A key recommendation from the Commission on the Future of Policing was that policing and public safety very often required a multi-agency approach and were not the sole responsibility of An Garda Síochána. Issues such as drug crime, repeat offending and mental health can only be meaningfully dealt with through a multi-agency response. This joined-up approach provides significant opportunities to provide an improved, more holistic service for communities and particularly the vulnerable. It is an approach that will help to reduce crime, including violent crime and quality of life-type crime, both of which have a significant impact on individuals and communities. It will also free-up time for gardaí to progress community policing initiatives, be more proactive and less reactive and prevent crime from happening in the first instance. I look forward to continuing to work with Departments and State agencies to deliver these changes and ask for the committee's support in that regard. While these changes are ongoing, every day our personnel continue to make a positive difference to the lives and safety of the people. We do this by preventing and tackling a wide range of crimes, maintaining national security, protecting the vulnerable and ensuring public safety. As I said, An Garda Síochána is going through a time of significant change. It will be change for the better in the policing service we provide. Some changes have been delivered, some will be delivered by year end and some will take several years to deliver. However, I am certain the changes will ensure the provision of an improved policing and security service for the people through our strong bond with the communities we serve.