470. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason certain crime statistics, in particular rates of theft and burglary, are higher in the commuter belt counties of Kildare and Meath; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that Garda resources per capita in these counties are the worst in the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1681/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility for the publication of recorded crime statistics rests with the Central Statistics Office as the national statistics agency. The most recent published figures covered the 12 month period to the end of the second quarter of 2014 and indicated that the number of burglary offences were down very slightly on the previous 12 months (down by 0.1%). While provisional information received from An Garda Síochána for the full year 2014 indicates a largely neutral trend in burglary crime in the Eastern Garda Region (not including the Dublin area), it would be important to await finalised data from the CSO before making any more definitive comments on the matter.
One of my priorities is to maintain and enhance the capacity of An Garda Síochána to protect the public, and in particular to prevent and detect crime. It is true that Garda strength has been affected by retirements, and that is why I was pleased to be able to secure approval for the resumption of Garda recruitment. As the Deputy will be aware, 100 new recruits entered training at the Garda College in Templemore in September 2014, the first intake of Garda recruits since 2009 . This was followed by an intake of a further 100 new recruits in December. A further intake of 100 is due to enter training at the end of this month. This will bring to 300 the number of recruits in the Garda College since last September and is a measure of this Government's commitment to the Garda Síochána. The first intake of recruits will attest as members of the Garda Síochána in May of this year and will be assigned to Garda Stations by the Garda Commissioner.
It is of course a key objective of the Garda Commissioner to allocate all of the resources at her disposal in a manner which maximises their impact on the protection of the public and on the prevention and detection of crime. In that context, Garda management keep under continuing review developments in relation to security assessments, crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of resources.
I have however been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of Kildare and Meath Garda Divisions on 30 November 2014, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 301 and 281 respectively. There are also 41 Reserves and 28 Civilians attached to Kildare Garda Division and 43 Reserves and 26 Civilians attached to the Meath Garda Division.
With the recommencement of Garda Recruitment, the allocation of Gardaí from the Garda College on completion of training to the Kildare and Meath Garda Divisions will be kept under review and fully considered by the Garda Commissioner within overall requirements of An Garda Síochána nationally.