295. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the reported 10% increase in Garda traffic corps numbers will be based on current figures or on the size of the corps from January 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7445/18]


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 have been informed that the strength of the Garda Traffic Corps on the 31 December 2017, stood at 623. In addition, there is one Chief Superintendent and two Superintendents attached to the DMR Traffic Corps, a Superintendent and Traffic Inspector attached to each of the five Regions, and one Superintendent attached to the Policing Road Traffic Bureau. It is important to note, that road traffic legislation is enforced as part of the day-to-day duties of all members of An Garda Síochána, as well as through specific enforcement operations.
There is no room for complacency when it comes to road safety and the intensive efforts being made to promote road safety have contributed to last year representing the lowest number of road traffic fatalities on record at 159. It is imperative that the positive momentum across road traffic enforcement and road safety initiatives is harnessed towards further annual reductions in fatalities.
By working together with the RSA and other agencies, An Garda Síochána will continue to confront dangerous road-user behaviour thorough public presence, legislative enforcement, education and partnership. The Government is committed to further supporting An Garda Síochána in this regard including by reversing the effects of the legacy of the moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 which resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána across the whole organisation including the Traffic Corps.
The Government implementation of the plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 is well underway and there is real tangible progress on reaching this goal. 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. Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increased to 13,551 at the end of 2017 - a net increase of over 600 since the end of 2016.
I am pleased to say that funding is in place to maintain this high level of investment. This year a further 800 Garda trainees will enter the College with 800 also scheduled to attest. This will see Garda numbers reach more than 14,000 by the end of 2018.
This increase in Garda numbers will facilitate the Commissioner in meeting his commitment to strengthen the numbers assigned to roads policing by 10% year on year using the strength of the Traffic Corps of 671 on 31 December 2016 as a baseline. It is not all about numbers, the Commissioner's Modernisation and Renewal Programme 2016-2021 places a strong emphasis on the role of the Traffic Corps being expanded to include crime prevention and detection on the roads through the establishment of Divisional Roads Policing Units. The Commissioner has confirmed that a review of roads policing has been completed and that a new role and job description for additional personnel for Road Policing Units has been developed.
I am advised that regional competitions which will allow for the allocation of additional resources to the Divisional Roads Policing Units is ongoing and Garda management plan that in the region of a 150 additional Gardaí will be assigned on an incremental basis to Roads Policing duties in 2018 to support better outcomes in relation to road traffic enforcement and crime prevention.