110. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice the details of the consideration given to the introduction to a specialised Garda public transport unit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51088/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Any acts of violence and anti-social behaviour on or near public transport are completely unacceptable. There are a number of tools at the disposal of the Garda Commissioner, who is operationally responsible, to respond to such incidents. The Commissioner is also responsible, as the Deputy will be aware, for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, and as Minister I have no role in these independent functions.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that Garda management engages extensively with transport operators, including the National Transport Authority, Irish Rail (DART and InterCity rail) and Transdev Ireland (Luas) to provide a high visibility presence through a co-ordinated approach.
I am informed that a range of regional and local operations have been put in place to prevent and detect incidents arising. For example, Operation Twin Track was a Community Engagement and Rail Safety Policing Initiative conducted by Gardaí in partnership with other public transportation stakeholders with the purpose of providing high visibility policing of rail and light rail transport within the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) and nationwide, and to deliver crime prevention advice.
A multi-agency review was conducted to examine the effectiveness of this operation and it was agreed that An Garda Síochána will continue to proactively engage with public transportation stakeholders and providers to conduct further similar operations.
I have been advised by the Garda authorities that each Chief Superintendent in Dublin has put in place a dedicated policing plan to tackle anti-social behaviour on public transport. Gardaí are conducting both overt and covert patrols of various public transport networks to address incidents of non-compliance under the Health Act 1947 (as amended), incidences of anti-social behaviour or any other criminal offences.
There is currently an operation in place as part of the J District Policing Plan aimed at the prevention of anti-social behaviour and graffiti damage on the DART. The operation aims to ensure the security and safety of Irish Rail staff and passengers, prevent of criminal damage to trains by graffiti, and identify and prosecute offenders engaged in defacing trains with graffiti.
There are a number of similar operations taking place in the lead up to and on Halloween, across the DMR, which will involve high visibility patrols of public transport on Dublin Bus, LUAS and Dart
services to prevent and detect incidents of anti-social behaviour.
I am advised that An Garda Síochána do not propose to establish a dedicated transport policing unit at this time.