56. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her views regarding anti-social behaviour, such as drug taking and knife crime, in Dublin city centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42285/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can assure the Deputy that I am in ongoing contact with the Garda Commissioner in relation to the measures which are being taken to combat crime and enhance public safety in the city centre area. An Garda Síochána make full use of the extensive range of legislation which is in place to address street crime and anti-social behaviour, including knife crime and drug related crime. In this regard there is a comprehensive and robust legal framework in place with respect to knife crime including strong Garda powers to search without a warrant and penalties of up to five years imprisonment.
Tackling this type of crime is central to the overall and ongoing implementation of the Dublin City Centre Policing Plan. This involves a high-visibility uniformed presence on key thoroughfares, as well as the use of undercover Gardaí as appropriate. As part of the Garda Plan a range of dedicated policing operations and measures are in place including Operation Spire and Operation Pier which target crime with concentrated high-visibility patrolling, as well as a special operation to enhance public order policing on the Liffey boardwalk. Drug crime is further targeted by covert operations such as Operation Viking and Operation Clean Streets.
The resumption of Garda recruitment and the deployment of newly attested Gardaí are of course key components in providing visible policing in the city centre and elsewhere.
In addition to the Garda responses, I am sure the Deputy would concur that the issues involved are not simply policing ones. He will also recall that I have previously met with the key state agencies and other stakeholders in relation to various actions which are aimed at improving the general environment in Dublin City Centre, and strongly support this ongoing work .
In relation to the concerns which have been expressed about drug misuse in the city centre, the Deputy will be aware that the Government's overall response to the problem of drug misuse, is set out in the National Drugs Strategy for the period 2009-2016. The Strategy is being delivered under the stewardship of my colleague, Minister of State Ó Ríordáin, and it provides a coordinated and comprehensive response founded on a partnership approach and work is already underway in planning the development of the new Strategy post 2016.
I think it is generally accepted that the complex issues which contribute to drug addiction and related behaviours must be addressed in a coordinated and cross-cutting manner. In response to the particular issues arising in Dublin City Centre a multi-agency street outreach approach is being used to work with vulnerable and high-risk individuals and an offender management programme is being piloted to address repeat offending in the Dublin City area. These measures, combined with the Government's initiatives to tackle homelessness, are helping to address the broader aspects of the problems referred to by the Deputy.
In conclusion, the Deputy will also be aware that I strongly support the continued close engagement between An Garda Síochána, Dublin City Council and other agencies as well as ongoing consultation with key stakeholders, such as the Dublin City Business Forum. My Department is maintaining contact with these cooperative initiatives, and I understand that positive feedback is being received in relation to the policing measures being employed by the Garda authorities, and their level of engagement with business and community interests.