Thursday, 25 November 2021

Ceisteanna (195)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

195. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice if an update will be provided on the commitment in the programme for Government to prioritise visible policing in both rural and urban communities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57816/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can assure the Deputy that the Government is committed to ensuring that there is strong, visible policing right across Ireland. Prioritising visible policing in rural and urban communities will ensure community policing is at the forefront of our police service and an integral strand of our social contract with the public.

I am pleased that Budget 2022 reflects the commitment of the Government to enhancing community safety and that An Garda Síochána has the resources to be an effective and trusted policing service. The budget provided by Government to the Garda Commissioner continues to increase to unprecedented levels, with an allocation of €1.952 billion for 2021 and over €2 billion in funding in Budget 2022. Indeed since 2016, the budget for An Garda Síochána has increased by some €500m, or approximately 33%.

This has enabled 3,340 new probationer Gardaí to be deployed, as well as continued investment in modern equipment. In addition, over 800 Gardaí have been redeployed to front line policing work through the recruitment of Garda staff.

I am delighted that Budget 2022 includes funding for the recruitment of 800 new Garda recruits and 400 Garda staff in 2022 - a further additional 1,200 personnel. This planned increase in the number of Garda members and staff is designed to deliver significant growth in operational policing hours nationwide and improved public safety and services to the public generally.Redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and support roles will also continue next year, thus allowing highly trained Gardaí to focus on frontline policing duties. The organisation's capacity will be further strengthened by the recruitment of additional Garda staff, including to specialist roles to support the investigation of crime and enhance the management of the organisation.

An Garda Síochána have advised that a recruitment plan for 2022 is currently being developed to manage the recruitment processes for Garda members and Garda staff roles. Implementation will of course be dependent on public health guidelines but I very much hope it will be possible to maximise the intake to Templemore next year. I understand there are a number of successful candidates still to be called from the last competition but I am delighted to confirm that a new Garda Trainee competition is also being planned for early next year.

The Deputy will also be aware that the Garda Commissioner is introducing the new Garda Operating Model, which is designed to make each Division the central unit of policing administration, rather than the current smaller District model. This is to provide a more comprehensive and inclusive policing service and will help strengthen the focus on community policing.

In addition, the Policing Security and Community Safety Bill will establish innovative Local Community Safety Partnerships to develop local safety plans, tailored to the priorities and needs identified by communities themselves. The Local Community Safety Partnerships will replace and build upon the existing Joint Policing Committees and will provide a forum for State agencies and local community representatives to work together to act on community concerns.

Each Partnership will devise and oversee a Local Community Safety Plan, which will be informed by the community itself. Membership of the Partnerships will be broader than that of the existing Joint Policing Committees and will include residents, community representatives (including youth, new communities and voluntary sector representation), business and education sector representation, relevant public services including the HSE, Tusla, An Garda Síochána and local authorities as well as local councillors. Pilot Partnerships are currently in place in Longford, Waterford and Dublin's north inner city and will run for two years ahead of a nationwide rollout to all local authority areas.