121. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which she expects to avail of extra Garda numbers, arising from the new recruitment programme, with a view to ensuring increased strength in Garda stations that have experienced a reduction in Garda numbers in the course of the past number of years, and with particular reference to demographic requirements and the need to ensure that An Garda Síochána is completely modernised, in line with other police forces globally, incorporating the best practice of the most efficient and effective; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7233/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The strength of the Garda Síochána on 31 December 2014, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 12,799. There were also 1,124 Garda Reserve members, with a further 48 in training. In addition, there were over 2,000 Garda civilian staff.
The Deputy will be aware that one of the primary functions of the Garda Commissioner under the Garda Síochána Acts, is to direct and control An Garda Síochána. In this regards it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of personnel among the Garda Regions, Divisions, and Districts. Garda management keep this distribution under continuing review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of these resources.
I was very pleased to secure the agreement of my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for the resumption of Garda recruitment. Last September, 100 new Garda recruits entered training at the Garda College in Templemore, the first intake of Garda recruits since May 2009. This was followed by an intake of a further 100 recruits in December and a third intake of 100 this month. This means that there are now 300 Garda students in training.
I remain in discussion with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on the timing of future intakes of Garda recruits.