210. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which policing methods are in accord with best international practice, with a view to maximising the opportunity for rapid response in urban and rural settings, making best use of technology and motor vehicles, and facilitating a visible presence as a deterrent to crime; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35730/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the Garda College continues to develop and deliver training to the Garda organisation in accordance with Garda policy aimed at ensuring enhanced delivery in line with resources and international best practice.
The new student/probationer training programme has been radically restructured into three phases. Phase I is for 32 weeks at the Garda College, at the end of which successful students will be attested (i.e. become members of the Garda Síochána with full police powers). Phase II is for 65 weeks based in Garda stations, and Phase III consists of seven weeks of exam preparation, exams and assessments (total 104 weeks). The new programme will now result in an award of a Bachelor of Arts (Level 7) in Police Studies.
Approximately 14,000 training days were delivered to Gardaí through the College in 2014. These training programmes include continued professional development for members. The College has excellent links with other third level institutions including University of Limerick and Waterford Institute of Technology. Recently the Garda College has obtained accreditation with the University of Limerick for its Senior Investigative Officers (S.I.O.) Programme at a level 9 Special Award.
In addition, I understand An Garda Síochána is supporting a number of staff in managerial positions to undertake the Executive MBA with the University of Limerick commencing in autumn 2015.
More generally, it is also the case that the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, in its reports on An Garda Síochána, benchmarks the performance of the An Garda Síochána with best international policing practice.
The Government Capital Plan 2016-2021 sets out the strategic objectives for investment in the Justice Sector over the life time of the plan. The substantial investment of €46 million for new Garda vehicles over the life time of the Plan, illustrates this Government’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that the Garda fleet is modern, effective and fit-for-purpose. Funding will be provided for both regular Garda patrol vehicles as well as specialist, high-power vehicles for targeted operations. Access to new and modern vehicles is vital in ensuring Gardai can be mobile, responsive and visible in both urban and rural communities. This investment builds on the nearly €29 million invested in new Garda vehicles since 2012. So far this year 370 new Garda vehicles have come on stream and I have secured a further €700,000 for the purchase of specialist vehicles to support Gardaí in tackling highly mobile criminal gangs. As regards investment in Garda technology and ICT the Plan provides an additional €205 million. This will bring the overall Garda ICT funding to €330 million over the lifetime of the Plan and will deliver on my commitment to progress important reforms of An Garda Síochána on foot of last year’s comprehensive report from the Garda Síochána Inspectorate on crime