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Question

105. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Justice the action being taken to ensure high visibility policing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51663/21]

109. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice her plans to increase high visibility policing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51096/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I propose to take Questions Nos. 105 and 109 together.
I can assure the Deputies that the Government is committed to ensuring that there is strong, visible policing right across Ireland.  Prioritising visible policing in rural and urban communities will ensure community policing is at the forefront of our police service and an integral strand of our social contract with the public.  An Garda Síochána continues to implement high visibility policing plans to address public disorder related issues and anti-social behaviour, with particular overt and targeted policing of public places at times when public order incidents and anti-social behaviour typically increase. 
I am pleased that Budget 2022 reflects the commitment of the Government to ensuring our communities are safe and that An Garda Síochána has the resources to be an effective and trusted policing service.
The budget provided by Government to the Garda Commissioner continues to increase to unprecedented levels, with an allocation of €1.952 billion for 2021. Budget 2022 provides over €2 billion in funding.
As the Deputies may be aware, Covid-19 restrictions on the Garda Training College in Templemore constrained recruitment and training for periods over the last 18 months. However, I am glad to confirm that 450 Gardaí will be recruited this year and the funding provided for next year fully supports the sustained recruitment of Garda members and staff.
In particular, the funding announced last week includes provision for the recruitment of 800 new Garda recruits and 400 Garda staff in 2022 - an additional 1,200 personnel. This increase in the number of Garda members and staff will deliver significant growth in operational policing hours nationwide and improved services to the public generally. Redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and support roles will also continue next year, thus allowing highly trained Gardaí to focus on frontline policing duties. The organisation's capacity will be further strengthened by the recruitment of additional Garda staff, including to specialist roles to support the investigation of crime and enhance the management of the organisation.
An Garda Síochána have advised that a recruitment plan for 2022 is currently being developed to manage the recruitment processes for Garda Members and Garda Staff roles. I understand there are a number of successful candidates who will be called from the last competition but a new Garda Trainee competition is also being planned which will be launched before the end of this year or early next year.       
As the Deputies will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is also introducing the new Garda Operating Model, which is designed to make each Division the central unit of policing administration, rather than the current smaller District model. This is to provide a more comprehensive and inclusive policing service and will help strengthen the focus on community policing.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that, as of 27 September, 820 Garda members have been released from posts not requiring Garda powers or expertise and their duties reassigned to Garda staff. This has in turn facilitated the redeployment of Garda members to operational duties. This process will continue in 2022.