An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021. This level of funding is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff. As a result, Garda numbers are some 14,600 Garda members and over 3,100 Garda staff nationwide. Budget 2021 will allow for the recruitment of up to 600 new Gardaí and an extra 500 Garda staff.
As the Deputy will appreciate, in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and controlling of the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. Further, the allocation of Garda resources is made in light of identified operational demand. This includes deployment of personnel among the various Garda Divisions. As Minister, I have no direct role in the matter.
I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of policing priorities and crime trends, to ensure their optimum use. The methodology used in such allocation for any particular area is also a matter for the Commissioner and his management team, and as Minister I have no role in such matters.
I understand that it is a matter for each Divisional Chief Superintendent to determine the optimum distribution of duties among the personnel available to him or her, having regard to the profile of each area within the Division and its specific needs.
With respect to the number of officially designated Community Gardaí, the Deputy may be interested to note that, to date, the official categorisation as a 'Community Garda' has simply referred to those who are exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities and civil society, including giving talks to schools, community groups and others. However, it is important to note that community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána and that all Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. This relationship is the fundamental building block underpinning 'A Policing Service for our Future', the Government's implementation plan for the recommendations of the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.