As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.
This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. To make this a reality for all, the Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. In 2017, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Appointments will also be made to the Garda Reserve of approximately 300.
I have spoken to the Garda Commissioner in relation to the delivery of the commitment to double the Reserve to 2,000 and what steps might be taken to ensure that the expanded Reserve is used to best effect in support of visible policing. In this regard I am informed that the Garda Reserve Management Office is undertaking an audit of the experience and skills of Reserves which, when completed, will assist Garda management in considering the future role to be played by the Reserve. Work is also underway on the development of a recruitment plan with the objective of recruiting and training 300 new Reserves annually starting later this year, to bring the strength of the Reserve up from its current strength of 695 members to 2,000 by 2021. As part of the planning process, I understand that the Office is examining the possibility of recruitment at the regional or divisional level, rather than centrally, and also the manner in which the training is delivered.