814. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if funding will be provided to purchase additional Garda prisoner transport vehicles. [19081/20]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Helen McEntee): The Deputy will be aware that in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána. In addition, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda vehicles. As Minister, I have no role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that 3 prisoner transport vehicles were allocated to the Garda Fleet in 2019, and a further 2 prisoner transport vehicles were allocated to the Garda Fleet in 2020.
I am advised that there are currently 16 Prisoner Transport Vehicles attached to the Garda Fleet. These are vehicles specifically designed for Prisoner Transport with a minimum capacity for 4 prisoners in individual cells dependent on the vehicle. This does not include the 106 Marked Ford Transit Vans which are allocated to Patrol Duties, each having two individual cells.
I am further advised that there are no plans to purchase additional prisoner transport vehicles this year and that the operational need for all vehicle types will be considered in the context of the 2021 budgetary process.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of 30 June 2020, there were 2,961 vehicles attached to the Garda Fleet, including vehicles attached to the national units. For clarity, this figure does not include the additional 210 vehicles which have been hired by An Garda Síochána this year, to provide additional capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Significant capital investment is being made in An Garda Síochána, including a total of €46 million specifically for the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021. This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet and that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.
Of this investment, a total of €9 million was made available for purchase and fit-out of additional Garda vehicles in 2020. I am also informed that in order to protect the ongoing availability of vehicles and in anticipation of the impact of public health restrictions on motor factory or fit-out workplaces, 94 additional vehicles were purchased by the Garda authorities in March 2020 at a cost of €2.4m and fit-out costs of €600,000. The allocation of these and all other vehicles in the fleet is entirely a matter for the Commissioner and his management team.