Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Ceisteanna (135)

Gerard Murphy

Ceist:

211 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the cutback in Garda coverage in the Ballydesmond Knocknagree area. [8790/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Justice)

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 13,000 following the attestation of 299 new members on Thursday, 16 November, 2006. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,298 (or 21.5%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The combined strength (all ranks), of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training as at the 31 December 2006 was 14,068. Furthermore, I should say that in December, 2006 as part of a package of anti-crime measures, the Government approved the continuation of the existing Garda recruitment programme to achieve a total Garda strength of 15,000. The accelerated intake of approximately 1100 new recruits per annum into the Garda College will continue until this target is met. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.4 billion, an 11% increase on 2006 and a 96% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I have been further informed by the Garda authorities that the personnel strength (all ranks) of Ballydesmond Garda Station on 31 January, 2007 was 1. The personnel strength (all ranks) of Knocknagree Garda Station on 31 January, 2007 was 1. Ballydesmond Garda Station and Knocknagree Garda Station form part of the Kanturk District in the Cork West Division. The personnel strength of the Kanturk District on 31 January, 2007 was 42 (all ranks). Ballydesmond Garda Station is open to the public from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, Monday to Saturday, subject to the rostered tour of duty of the member attached to Ballydesmond Garda Station. Knocknagree Garda Station is open to the public from 3pm to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, subject to the rostered tour of duty of the member attached to Knocknagree Garda Station. Outside of these hours, the call diversion system is in operation and linked to the District Headquarters at Kanturk Garda Station.

Local Garda Management report that there has been no reduction in Garda coverage and policing of the Ballydesmond/Knocknagree area. Alternative arrangements have been put in place in relation to the use of a Garda Patrol car in the District to ensure improved visibility and enhance law enforcement capability in the area. I should add that it is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Divisions. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends and other operational policing needs. Such allocations are continually monitored and reviewed along with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy. This ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources and that the best possible service is provided to the public.

The situation will be kept under review and when additional personnel next become available the needs of the Ballydesmond and Knocknagree areas will be fully considered within the overall context of the needs of Garda stations throughout the country.