I thank Deputy Flaherty for bringing up this very important matter. I know it is something the Deputy has raised on a number of occasions. As the Deputy will be aware, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including the deployment of gardaí. As Minister of State, I have no direct role in these matters. I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of Garda members under continual review in the context of policing priorities and crime trends, to ensure An Garda Síochána is optimally positioned to keep our communities safe.
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. As I have previously stated, it is important to note however that community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána and that all members of the Garda have a role to play in community policing in the course of carrying out their duties. Indeed, this is at the heart of the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, which are being implemented under the plan, A Policing Service for our Future, and the policing, security and community safety Bill will enshrine this in legislation.
I can inform the Deputy that as at 31 October 2021, there were 11 Garda members, comprising three sergeants and eight gardaí, categorised as community gardaí in the Roscommon-Longford Garda division. I can further inform the Deputy that as at the same date, there were seven Garda members, comprising two sergeants and five gardaí, categorised as community gardaí in the Westmeath Garda division. The Deputy may wish to further note that there are currently 300 gardaí assigned to the Roscommon-Longford division as a whole and 262 gardaí assigned to the Westmeath division. As I have stated, community policing is at the heart of everything all of these members of the Garda do in the course of their duties.
As the Deputy will be aware, budget 2022 will see over €2 billion allocated to An Garda Síochána next year. This funding will include provision for the recruitment of 800 new Garda recruits and additional Garda staff, subject to the public health situation. This increase in the number of Garda members and staff will deliver significant growth in operational policing hours nationwide and improved services to the public generally.