Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Ceisteanna (104)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

104. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí assigned to the detection and prosecution of drugs offences in each of the years 2010 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18104/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who 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.

I am informed by the Commissioner that Garda Drug Unit personnel are assigned on a Divisional basis and that the total number of Divisional Drug Unit personnel as of 28 February 2018, the latest date for which information is readily available, was 231.

As the Deputy will be aware all Gardaí have a responsibility in the prevention and detection of criminal activity whether it be in the area of drug offences, crime or otherwise.  I can assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána continues to pro-actively and resolutely tackle all forms of drug crime in this jurisdiction.

In 2015 the Commissioner, established a new national Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GDOCB), which brought together the Organised Crime Unit and the Garda National Drug Unit so as to create a robust entity to effectively tackle drugs and organised crime, as it currently exists in this country.

The GDOCB leads out the policing strategy for tackling drugs by demand reduction and supply reduction strategies. In this regard the Bureau continues its policy of working with Garda Divisional Drug Units nationwide in tackling supply reduction at local level. This work is further supported by other national units, including the Criminal Assets Bureau, in targeting persons involved in the illicit sale and supply of drugs. I am informed that this approach allows for the co-ordinated use of Garda resources in tackling all forms of organised crime, including illicit drug activity nationwide.

We have also seen unprecedented international cooperation between An Garda Síochána and policing services in other jurisdictions leading to important arrests and drug seizures.

Underpinning all these measures is this Government’s commitment 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. I am further informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, just under 1,800 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. I am pleased to say that Garda numbers, taking account of retirements, increased to 13,551 at the end of 2017 – a net increase of over 600 since the end of 2016.

This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána.  We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources he needs to allow him to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across the organisation including the Divisional Drugs Units.

For the Deputy's information, I have attached the number of Gardaí allocated to the Drugs Unit for the years 2010 – 2017 and 28 February 2018, the latest date for which figures are available, and for the GDOCB since its establishment in 2015.

Drugs Unit Personnel 2010-2018*

Year

Nos.

2010

378

2011

361

2012

310

2013

270

2014

253

2015

258

2016

256

2017

236

2018

231

* As of 28 February 2018  

Garda assigned to the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau 2010-2018*

Year

Nos.

2015

107

2016

105

2017

114

2018

111

* As of 28 February 2018