Filter

Question

127. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total expenditure per annum on the witness protection programme in the years 2010 to 2014 and in 2015 to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18798/15]

128. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the operational oversight that is in place on the Witness Protection Programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18799/15]

129. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to review the operation of the Witness Protection Programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18800/15]

130. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total number of staff tasked with overseeing the operation of the Witness Protection Programme in each of the years 2010 to 2014 and in 2015 to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18801/15]

131. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the guidelines in place for hiring external supports for the Witness Protection Programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18802/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 127 to 131, inclusive, together.
The Garda Síochána has operated a Witness Security Programme since 1997 to respond to attempts by criminal and other groups to prevent the normal functioning of the criminal justice system, including threats of violence and systematic intimidation of witnesses.
The expenditure from the Witness Security Programme subhead for the years 2010 - 2015 is set out in the table below.

Year Outturn
2010 €0.700m
2011 €0.700m
2012 *Nil
2013 €1.150m
2014 **€1.198m - Provisional outturn
2015 (to date) €400,000

* Expenses in relation to 2012 are reflected in outturn for 2013.
** The final outturn for 2014 will only be available when the Comptroller and Auditor General has finalised the relevant Appropriation Accounts.
The Deputy will appreciate that by virtue of the highly confidential nature of the Witness Security Programme and the need to maintain the protection of persons who receive support from that Programme, for obvious reasons it has not been the practice of successive Ministers to detail the specifics of its operation. I can say, however, that it has been operated in a significant number of cases and that over the course of its operation over many years it has proven its worth in helping to secure the conviction of very serious organised crime leaders.
The Witness Security Programme is operated by the Garda authorities, overseen by the Crime and Security Section at Garda Headquarters supported by the Special Detective Unit and other local Garda resources as necessary. The operation of the programme and the resources required for it are kept under continuous review by the Garda authorities.
The Programme for Government contains a commitment to provide statutory guidelines for the Witness Security Programme, which currently operates on an administrative basis. Consideration of legislative framework to give effect to this commitment is under active consideration in my Department.