107. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent she expects to be in a position to increase Garda strength, in line with demographics, in view of the availability of new Garda recruits; if specific crime blackspots will be targeted in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7562/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): One of the primary functions of the Garda Commissioner, under the Garda Síochána Acts, is to direct and control An Garda Síochána. The Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel and vehicles, 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.
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.
I was very pleased that my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform agreed to 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.
The first intake of recruits will attest as members of An Garda Síochána in May of this year and will be assigned to Garda Stations by the Garda Commissioner. The Garda Commissioner, will of course, continue to keep the of all Garda Stations under review within the overall context of the needs of Garda Stations throughout the country.
I remain in discussion with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on the timing of future intakes of Garda recruits.