278. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí currently assigned to each divisional drug unit. [7200/18]
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.
I am informed that the Garda strength of the Divisional Drug Units was 236 as of 31 December 2017.
As the Deputy will be aware all Gardaí have a responsibility in the prevention and detection of criminal activity whether it be in the area of drug offences crime or otherwise. I can assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána continues to pro-actively and resolutely tackle all forms of drug crime in this jurisdiction.
An Garda Síochána's National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, which was established in 2015, continues to lead out the policing strategy for tackling drugs by demand reduction and supply reduction strategies. In this regard the Bureau continues its policy of working with Garda Divisional Drug Units nationwide in tackling supply reduction at local level.
This work is further supported by other national units, including the Criminal Assets Bureau, in targeting persons involved in the illicit sale and supply of drugs. This approach allows for the co-ordinated use of Garda resources in tackling all forms of organised crime, including illicit drug activity nationwide. Multi-disciplinary approaches are also utilised to ensure that those involved in illicit activity are effectively targeted including through the use of the proceeds of crime legislation, money laundering legislation and the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau. I am informed that this approach adopts good practice in implementing a co-ordinated use of Garda resources and in utilising available criminal law to its fullest extent in tackling all forms of organised crime, including drug trafficking.
We have also seen unprecedented international cooperation between An Garda Síochána and policing services in other jurisdictions leading to important arrests and drug seizures.
Underpinning all these measures is this Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. I am informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, close to 1,600 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide.
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 he needs to allow him to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across the organisation including the Divisional Drugs Units.
I have provided for the record the detailed information requested by Deputy in tabular form as of 31 December 2017.
Strength of Divisional Drugs Units 31 December 2017
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