As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for carrying on, managing and generally controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including issues relating to personnel and the distribution of personnel. Garda management keeps staffing and deployment requirements under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.
The Government decided in July 2016 to increase the number of Gardaí to 15,000 and Garda staff to a total of 4,000 by 2021 and huge progress has already been made towards that goal. As part of that plan, there is ongoing and increased recruitment of new Gardaí and Garda staff, allowing for redeployment of Gardaí to operational duties at the front-line. There are now over 14,200 Gardaí nationwide, supported by over 2,700 civilian staff.
In fact, since the re-opening of the Garda Training College in 2014, approximately 2,800 new Garda members have attested and been assigned to front-line policing duties in communities throughout the country. Another 200 probationer Gardaí are due to attest by the end of this year.
In line with the recommendation of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, it is for the Commissioner to decide and balance the organisation's needs within the resources allocated to him. For example, in addition to recruiting 600 Gardaí the Commissioner decided this year to recruit an additional 600 Garda staff in 2019. This will in turn allow for the redeployment of approximately 500 experienced Gardaí to front-line policing duties by the end of this year.
I am advised by the Garda Commissioner that as of 31 August, there were 473 Garda Reserves across the organisation.
I am informed by An Garda Síochána that a class of approximately 100 Garda reserve recruits commenced training in March 2019 at the Garda College, Templemore.
In addition, as recommended in the Commission's report, An Garda Síochána is currently conducting a strategic review of the Garda Reserve to inform future decisions around its use. The strategy is expected to inform the development and preparation for a new Reserve recruitment drive by the end of 2019. I understand that a class of 100 reserves commenced training in March and, as of 31 August, there are 473 reserves across the organisation.
Finally, it may be noted that unprecedented resources are currently being provided to An Garda Síochána. A total budget of €1.76 billion has been allocated to An Garda Síochána in 2019, in addition to capital investment of €92 million this year. This ongoing investment is intended to support growth in the organisation as well as the ambitious Garda reform plan, with the overall goal of ensuring a visible, professional and effective policing service to all our communities, nationwide.