Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the additional funding that has been allocated to the text alert scheme as part of the recently announced national anti-crime strategy- Operation Thor; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40075/15]
323. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of text alert schemes that will be supported by the increased funding provided in budget 2016; the amount allocated for text alert schemes in each Garda division; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40238/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 314 and 323 together.
The position is that for many years my Department has supported community crime prevention by provided funding for the Community Alert programme, which is operated by Muintir na Tíre in partnership with the Garda authorities, and which supports over 1,400 local groups including many Text Alert schemes. There are now in excess of 700 local Text Alert schemes operating and guidelines for establishing and operating a Community Text Alert Service have been published and are available on the Garda Website www.garda.ie and information and advice on establishing such a scheme is available from local Community Gardaí.
I am pleased to say that I have secured €397,000 for the crime prevention initiatives supported directly by my Department in 2016, including Community Alert, and my Department is in the process of engaging with Community Alert in relation to how these increased resources will be deployed during 2016. This investment represents a doubling of funding in this area, and will complement Garda public awareness measures being implemented as part of the multi-strand approach to tackle burglary under Operation Thor.
I should advise the Deputy that neither my Department nor An Garda Síochána provide direct funding for the setting up of Text Alert Schemes, or for the operation of local Community Alert Groups generally. Instead, funding is provided in relation to the employment and associated costs of the national Community Alert programme, including the employment of regional Development Officers. The long-standing view has been that this is the best use of the resources available to my Department to support effective community crime prevention actions.