I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength of the Dublin metropolitan region as at 24 February 2006 was 3,861 — all ranks. Of this figure 3,213 members are at garda rank and 648 members are at a supervisory rank. While a majority of these are uniform personnel, a number are employed on plain clothes duty. Garda personnel are divided into four separate working units, with three working and one resting on any given day.
Garda management states that the availability of Garda personnel for patrolling changes on a daily basis and is consequent on annual leave and other absences due to sickness, court appearances, training and a variety of other reasons including meetings with community groups, non-governmental organisations, etc.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that every effort is made to provide a high-visibility presence throughout the Dublin metropolitan region. Uniform and detective units and divisional traffic corps, supplemented by community policing units and Garda mountain bike units — all of which provide a highly visible local presence — continue to police the community and to take a proactive approach to addressing anti-social-public disorder issues by way of immediate intervention, arrest and prosecution, or advice as appropriate. Policing strategies are predicated on the policy of reducing and preventing incidents of public order offending, the prevention of crimes of violence against persons and property and the maintenance of an environment conducive to the improvement of quality of life.
The timescale for achieving the target strength of 14,000 members of the Garda Síochána in line with the commitment in An Agreed Programme for Government remains as when I announced the Government approval in October 2004 for my proposals to achieve this objective. The phased increase in the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 will lead to a combined strength, of both attested gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,000 by the end of this year.
As part of the accelerated recruitment campaign to facilitate this record expansion, 1,125 Garda recruits were inducted to the Garda college during 2005. The college will induct a further 1,100 recruits this year and again in 2007, by way of intakes to the Garda college of approximately 275 recruits every quarter. This project is fully on target and will be achieved. The first incremental increase of newly attested gardaí under the programme of accelerated recruitment will take place on 16 March 2006.
The Garda Commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources, and in this context the needs of the Dublin metropolitan region will be fully considered within the overall context of the needs of Garda regions throughout the country.