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Crime Prevention

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 4 February 2021

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Ceisteanna (191, 193, 194)

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

191. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice if, in view of recent increases in knife crime, the measures being taken to address this problem; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6314/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

193. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice if she will consider minimum sentencing guidelines for knife crimes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6316/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

194. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the resources provided to An Garda Síochána to tackle knife crime; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6317/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 191, 193 and 194 together.

I would like to express my deepest sympathies to all those impacted upon by the recent knife crime related incidents in Dublin, and in particular to the families of the deceased. 

While the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the specific details of any of these incidents, as they are the subject of ongoing investigations, the Government is very conscious of the dangers presented by knife crime and is determined to ensure that similar problems to those which have developed in neighbouring jurisdictions do not develop here in Ireland.

My Department is keeping the law in relation to sentencing for knife crimes, as well as all other policies around knife crimes, such as targeted interventions, under review. It should be noted that the existing maximum sentence (five years) for carrying a knife in this jurisdiction is higher than most common law countries and many other EU countries.

Following a number of initial discussions on our shared concern about these recent serious crime incidents, Minister McEntee met with the Garda Commissioner this week to discuss the issue.

The Commissioner has confirmed that An Garda Síochána has a comprehensive policing plan in place in Dublin’s north inner city. The Minister and the Commissioner also discussed what more can be done to tackle knife crime.

They both agreed that strong community engagement, increased community safety and youth services are a key element in preventing and reducing crime. They also discussed outreach and information programmes, run in a number of different languages, for all communities, as well as youth justice specific and other interventions. 

The Minister and the Commissioner also agreed that further analysis is needed to provide greater insights into the level of violent incidents in our society and that they will remain in ongoing contact on the issue.

The Deputy will also be aware that my Department will shortly bring to Government a new Youth Justice Strategy to cover the period up to 2026. A key priority for this new Strategy will be to strengthen and expand the role of the Garda Youth Diversion projects and other community-based initiatives, including those working with the Probation Service.  Bringing the full range of relevant interventions together in a coherent and holistic response to youth crime will support the objective of diverting young people from crime and anti-social behaviour, including knife crime.

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 now approximately 14,600 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide.  Budget 2021 will allow for the recruitment of up to 620 new Gardaí and an extra 500 Garda staff, subject to the impact of the pandemic on the Garda College.  These additional resources will further strengthen An Garda Síochána’s response to all forms of crime, including knife crime.

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