Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Ceisteanna (150)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

150. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of women members of An Garda Síochána; the extent to which this number has fluctuated in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48166/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am informed by the Commissioner that the total number of women in all ranks of An Garda Síochána as of the 31 October 2019, the latest date for which figures are currently available was 3,807 or approximately 27 % of total Garda strength. This compares favourably with the total of 3,130 or 21.7% of the total strength on 31 December 2008.

For the Deputy's information the following table, as supplied to me by the Commissioner, sets out the number of women in An Garda Síochána over the past five years, as requested by the Deputy.

Year 

 2019 (at 31 October)

 2018

 2017

 2016

 2015

Number

 3807

 3759

 3592

 3392

 3324

*Figures as at 31 October 2019

As this table shows, the number of women in An Garda Síochána has steadily increased. This is particularly so in the last decade- the percentage of women in An Garda Síochána has risen from 18.5% in 2006 to just under 27% today.  I understand that this is above the European average.  In the same period, I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of female superintendents, inspectors and sergeants has doubled in the organisation.

The Deputy may be interested to know that in the course of its work, the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI) held semi-structured focus group discussions with female Garda members to explore the experiences of female Garda personnel regarding their careers, training and development and future prospects. Among the recommendations made in the CoFPI report, which the Government adopted in December 2018, is the reform of the current roster and greater flexibility of work practices which would enhance the attractiveness and job satisfaction of a career in An Garda Síochána.

In addition, the report also recommended that An Garda Síochána should reflect the diversity of Irish society, not only in gender and ethnicity, but also in terms of socioeconomic, educational and geographical backgrounds and that they would need to develop recruitment strategies which reach a more diverse intake.

A concerted effort is being made to encourage women and minority communities to consider a career in An Garda Síochána so that its membership reflects the community that it serves. Recent recruitment campaigns have made a significant effort through online videos and other media to attract candidates from minority communities and diverse social groups. In the most recent recruitment campaign a series of videos and text were produced in multiple languages including English, Irish, French, Spanish, Italian and Arabic. They were published on the Garda Facebook page which has more than 180,000 followers.

While the current number of women members in An Garda Síochána is broadly in line with the percentage of women in police services across England and Wales, there is clearly scope for further improvement.  I expect that the above steps being taken by An Garda Siochana will ensure that the membership of the organisation can evolve to more closely reflect the society that it serves.