Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of handheld mobile devices which have been issued to Garda stations across the country to date; the Garda divisions and roads policing units which have these devices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24513/19]
137. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he expects the 2,000 handheld devices or smartphones will be issued to An Garda Síochána; if this will be done before the end of 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24514/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 137 together.
There has been an unprecedented level of investment in Garda resources across the State in recent years. An allocation of €1.76 billion has been provided to An Garda Síochána for 2019. Very significant capital investment is also being made, including investment of €342 million in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021. This continuing investment in people and capital supports the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.
In accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. Further, the allocation of Garda resources, including equipment, is a matter for the Commissioner in light of identified operational demands.
As the Deputy may be aware, funding has been provided to An Garda Síochána for roll-out of mobile devices to operational Gardaí, in line with one of the recommendations of the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. The implementation plan for that report - A Policing Service for the Future - includes a specific action for An Garda Síochána to acquire and commence the deployment of 2,000 mobile devices for frontline policing by Q4 of this year.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the ACTIVE Mobility programme is the delivery mechanism in this regard. This programme aims to securely connect frontline Garda members to office information systems through mobile technology. Mobile devices, known as Mobile Data Stations will support frontline members with apps including some which will deliver efficiencies for example by replacing paper forms. It will provide the same access to information as if the Garda were at a station, allowing him or her to be more active and visible in the community.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that a successful pilot programme has been conducted in the Limerick Division, which delivered smart mobile devices to 50 members within Roads Policing, Regular, Community and Detective Units in that Division. I am further informed by the Garda authorities that, in keeping with the timetable set out above, it is planned, subject to completion of procurement, to deliver 2,000 mobile devices to frontline Gardaí commencing from Q4 2019.