97. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice the steps she plans to take to combat antisocial behaviour and violent assaults in inner city areas of Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51419/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): The Government is determined to tackle anti-social behaviour and I am very conscious of the impact it can have on the quality of life for local communities, including in Dublin’s inner city.
We want people to feel safe and be safe in Dublin, whether they live or work in Dublin or want to visit and enjoy our capital city. As the Deputy may be aware, Minister Humphreys recently visited the city centre and met with the Garda authorities, Dublin business owners and local representatives to discuss anti-social behaviour. The Deputy will be aware that last week’s budget includes significant additional funding to support initiatives under the Youth Justice Strategy and the new Community Safety Innovation Fund which will support community based initiatives to ensure public safety.
Gardaí continue 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, such as bank holiday weekends. This includes the commencement of specific high visibility operations to tackle anti-social behaviour in Dublin city centre in order to reassure citizens, visitors and the business community.
I am further informed that Operation Soteria is in place targeting a reduction of assaults in public, reduce fear of violence within communities, prioritise assault investigations and focus on problem areas and assault hotspots.
As the Deputy will be aware, in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government, last year I established an Expert Forum on Anti-Social Behaviour. This forum is considering the effectiveness of existing legislation and looking at proposals for new ways forward, including new powers for Gardaí and additional interventions to support parenting of offenders. A subgroup of the forum has recently been established to examine the issue of knife crime. This follows a previous subgroup which examined the misuse of scramblers and quadbikes.
The Deputy will also be aware of the Local Community Safety Partnership pilot which is underway in the north inner city, chaired by Mr Cormac Ó Donnchú. Local Community Safety Partnerships are designed to take a holistic approach to safety issues in partnership with the community. The Partnerships will allow local communities to identify issues of particular concern within their area and work with the relevant State services to develop a local Community Safety Plan to specifically tackle these issues and I am delighted that the funding made available in Budget 2022 will be available to support this.