237. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of community gardaí in Ballymun station in each of the years 2008 to 2018, inclusive; and if the number will be increased to deal with the increased level of gun crime in the area. [8289/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.
I am advised that local Garda management are making every effort to deal with problems arising in the Ballymun area and that a number of measures have been put in place, including additional high-visibility patrols, support from the public order unit and operations by the local drug unit and these will continue into the future.
I am informed by the Commissioner that the strength of Ballymun Garda Station on 31 December 2017, the latest date for which information is readily available, was 113 of which 8 are designated as Community Garda. There are also 7 Garda Reserves and 8 Garda civilian staff attached to the Ballymun Garda Station. When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Armed Support Units, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
In addition, at the request of the Commissioner in 2016, the Government moved decisively to strengthen Garda resources to deal with gang-related crime in the Dublin area. Funding was approved for the establishment of a dedicated Armed Support Unit (ASU) for the DMR in order to enhance armed support capability in Dublin and to free up the resources of the Emergency Response Unit. Following a selection and training process, the ASU for the DMR became fully operational in December 2016 and is providing armed cover in the DMR on a 24 hour basis. Members of the ASU are highly trained and equipped with a variety of non-lethal and lethal weapons and perform high visibility armed checkpoints and patrols throughout the DMR Divisions including the DMR North.
This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. To achieve this the Government has put in place a plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. We are making real, tangible progress on achieving this goal.
I am informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, just under 1,600 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, of whom 29 have been assigned to Ballymun Garda Station. I am pleased to say that Garda numbers, taking account of retirements, increased to 13,551 at the end of 2017 - a net increase of over 600 since the end of 2016.
I am also pleased that funding is in place to maintain this high level of investment in the Garda workforce to ensure that the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. This year a further 800 new Garda Recruits will enter the Garda College. Also 800 Garda trainees are scheduled to attest during the year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, reach 14,000 by the end of 2018.
In addition, a further 500 civilians will also be recruited to fill critical skills gaps across the organisation and to facilitate the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and technical duties to front-line operational duties. There are plans to strengthen the Garda Reserve with new Reserves expected to commence training in 2018.
This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána. We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Division.
In relation to the number of "Community Gardaí " it is important to recognise that community policing is not a specialist role in An Garda Síochána; rather it is the case that all Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. The official categorisation as a “Community Garda" simply refers to those who are exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities including through the giving of talks to schools, community groups and others. It is a matter for the Divisional Chief Superintendent to determine the optimum distribution of duties among the personnel available to him or her having regard to the profile of the area and its specific needs.
I am assured by the Commissioner that the Garda National Model of Community Policing plays a key part in responding to crime by taking into account and responding to local conditions and needs. Overall the Model advocates a partnership based, pro-active, community-orientated style of policing. It is focused on crime prevention, problem-solving and law enforcement, with a view to building trust and enhancing the quality of life of the entire community. Clear objectives are set, such as high visibility in the community, ease of contact by members of the public, and enhanced support for crime prevention strategies.
As part of the Community Policing Model An Garda Síochána work in partnership with local communities, to prevent and deter crime through initiatives such as Neighbourhood Watch, Community Alert, Text Alert and the Garda Schools Programme as well as through more formal structures such as Joint Policing Committees.
The Community Policing Model also places a strong emphasis on Crime Prevention and within each Garda Division, where there are specialist Crime Prevention Officers (CPOs), who are trained to encourage, promote and advise on crime prevention within communities.
In addition, the National Community Policing Office, attached to the Garda Community Engagement Bureau, captures best practice in community policing initiatives and disseminates these practices through its communication network.
I have previously stated that I welcome the strong emphasis that the Commissioner's Modernisation and Renewal Programme 2016-2021 places on developing and supporting the community policing ethos of the organisation and enhancing the current delivery model so that Gardaí spend more time in the community, gaining public confidence and trust and providing a greater sense of security. It will result in the introduction of multi-skilled Community Policing Teams in every District. In terms of progress on this important initiative, I am informed that a draft Community Policing Framework which outlines the manner in which Community Policing Teams will be established has been completed and is subject to internal review before being approved by the Garda Executive for implementation.
For the Deputy's information, I have provided in tabular form, in the following document, the total strength and Community Gardaí strength of Ballymun Garda Station as of 31 December 2008 to 31 December 2017 the latest date for which figures are readily available, as provided by the Commissioner.
|Ballymun Garda Station|