As the Deputy will be aware, responding to and preventing crime, including anti-social behaviour, are operational matters for the Garda Commissioner. Neither I nor Minister Humphreys have any direct role in these matters.
However, I am very conscious of how anti-social behaviour affects the quality of life for local communities, and I am assured by the Commissioner that the safety and security of all citizens remains a priority for An Garda Síochána.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that there is ongoing liaison with community leaders and schools in the Grand Canal area to discourage anti-social behaviour, along with engagement with residents associations and communities to drive a partnership response to these issues.
I understand that Gardaí met with local community representatives last December following a request at the Joint Policing Committee (JPC) and discussed the issues affecting these areas. Following the meeting, Gardaí engaged with project management companies who are now erecting signage that consumption of alcohol along the Grand Canal is unacceptable. Local Garda management also met with the Docklands Business Forum in February to discuss the issues affecting the area and I understand that a follow up online meeting will be organised prior to the next JPC meeting.
I am informed that local Garda management utilise all legislation in place to address street crime and anti-social behaviour, including drug related crime, along the Grand Canal. This includes a high-visibility uniformed presence in addition to the use of plain clothes Gardaí as appropriate, through overt and covert operations. As of 1 January 2021, a Public Order Unit is deployed every weekend to areas subject to anti-social behaviour and other types of criminal activity.
I am further advised that during the summer months there will be increased uniformed foot and mountain bike patrols along the Grand Canal under Operation GCD, an operation established to counteract incidents of anti-social behaviour and disruption caused by young people swimming in the Canal during the summer holiday period. I understand that this operation has been positively received by the local community and it is envisioned that this operation will be run again in the coming summer months.
The Deputy may also be interested to note that the Department's Justice Plan 2021 contains a number of commitments with regard to tackling anti-social behaviour.
In line with a commitment in the Programme for Government, I have established a special expert forum on antisocial behaviour. A subgroup of this forum has already helped inform a new scheme to tackle the misuse of scramblers and quadbikes and similar sub groups can also be established for other issues where appropriate.
On 15 April last, Minister McEntee and I launched the new Youth Justice Strategy 2021-2027. This new strategy will pursue a collaborative response to the situation of vulnerable children and young people, with a strong focus on diverting them away from offending, and building supports to provide prevention and early intervention.
Anti-social behaviour will also be considered by the Local Community Safety Partnerships which are to be set up in every Local Authority under my Department’s new community safety policy. Three pilot partnerships are currently being established in Dublin’s north inner city, Longford and Waterford and will run for the next two years ahead of the nationwide rollout.