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Question

278. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí available for duty throughout the country in each of the past ten years to date; the extent by which it is expected to augment these numbers in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6027/18]

283. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which he expects to be in a position to deploy extra gardaí to the various stations throughout the country including County Kildare, with particular reference to the area of the obvious need for extra policing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6032/18]

285. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which he anticipates to be in a position to increase the strength of An Garda Síochána at all ranks over the next four years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6034/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 278, 283 and 285 together.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner 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.
I am informed by the Commissioner that the Garda strength of the Kildare Division on 31 December 2017 was 360, an increase of 48 since 31 December 2015, with 20 Garda Reserves and 30 Garda civilian staff also attached to the Division. When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Armed Support Units, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
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. To achieve this the Government has put in place a plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. We are making real, tangible progress on achieving this goal.
Taking account of projected retirements, reaching a strength of 15,000 by 2021 will require some 1,600 new Garda members to be recruited on a phased basis over the next two years in addition to the 2,800 that will have been recruited by the end of this year since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014.
I am informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, just under 1,600 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, of whom 80 have been assigned to the Kildare Division. I am pleased to say that Garda numbers, taking account of retirements, increased to 13,551 at the end of 2017 - a net increase of over 600 since the end of 2016.
I am also pleased that funding is in place to maintain this high level of investment in the Garda workforce to ensure that the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. This year a further 800 new Garda Recruits will enter the Garda College. Also 800 Garda trainees are scheduled to attest during the year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, reach 14,000 by the end of 2018.
As the strength of the sworn members increases to 15,000 it will be important to ensure that there appropriate levels of support and supervision are maintained. I am engaging with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to increasing the employment control frameworks applying to the ranks of sergeant and inspector on a pro rata basis. The filling of vacancies in these supervisory ranks is, of course, a matter for the Commissioner under the Garda Síochána (Promotion) Regulations 2006 (as amended). I am advised by the Commissioner that competitions for promotion to the ranks of Sergeant and Inspector are currently in train and that the requirements of each Garda Division will be considered by the Commissioner when assigning successful candidates from these competitions
In 2018, funding has also been provided for a further 500 civilians to 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 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 Kildare Division in the coming years.
I have set out in the following table the information requested by the Deputy for each of the past ten years to 31 December 2017, the latest date for which figures are readily available from the Commissioner.

TOTAL STRENGTH OF FORCE 2008 - 2017
YEAR TOTAL
2008 14,412
2009 14,547
2010 14,377
2011 13,894
2012 13,424
2013 13,093
2014 12,799
2015 12,816
2016 12,943
2017 13,551