124. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of dedicated community gardaí in the service of An Garda Síochána in each of the past seven years; and the number of dedicated community gardaí in the Cork city Garda district in each of the past seven years. [48473/17]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.
Community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána. It provides a means of recognising that every community – both urban and rural – has its own concerns and expectations.
I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the Garda National Model of Community Policing plays a key part in responding to crime by taking into account and responding to local conditions and needs. Clear objectives are set, such as high visibility in the community, ease of contact by members of the public, and enhanced support for crime prevention strategies. All Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. In addition, the National Community Policing Office, attached to the Garda Community Relations Bureau, captures best practice in community policing initiatives and disseminates these practices through its communication network.
An Garda Síochána's Modernisation and Renewal Programme 2016-2021, published in June 2016, places a strong emphasis on developing and supporting the community policing ethos of the organisation and enhancing the current delivery model so that Gardaí spend more time in the community, gaining public confidence and trust and providing a greater sense of security. It will result in the introduction of multi-skilled Community Policing Teams in every District.
These Community Policing Teams will be made-up of Gardaí from a number of different units who will work with the local community to prevent and detect crime. In addition, each Community Policing Team will be supported by a Community Safety Forum. The Forum which will comprise of local Gardaí, members of the public and community groups will promote crime prevention strategies. This clear and consistent approach to community policing will ensure a better service and enhanced community safety.
In terms of progress on this important initiative, I am informed by the Commissioner that a draft Community Policing Framework which outlines the manner in which Community Policing Teams and Community Safety Fora will be established has been completed and is subject to internal review before being approved by the Executive for implementation.
This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. The substantial increase in Garda numbers is tangible progress on achieving this Government’s vision of an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians.that a number of Community Policing Teams will be established on a pilot basis early next year.
I am informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, close to 1,400 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, 119 of whom have been assigned to the D.M.R. West Division. In addition, another 200 trainee Garda are scheduled to attest later this year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end - an increase of 500 since the end of 2016.
I am pleased to say that Budget 2018 will support the continuation of this high level of investment in the Garda workforce and ensure that the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. A further 800 new Garda Recruits will enter the Garda College, an additional 500 civilians will also be recruited to fill critical skills gaps across the organisation and to facilitate the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and technical duties to front-line operational duties. There are plans to strengthen the Garda Reserve with new Reserves expected to commence training early in 2018.
This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána. We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Garda Division, including the D.M.R. West Division, in the coming years.
The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.
Strength of Community Gardaí 2009-2017*
|Year||Total Strength||Cork City Division|