713. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice if she had been appraised of the work undertaken by An Garda Síochána in respect of an operation (details supplied); the length of time the operation has been in place; the arrests undertaken to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9707/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of resources. As Minister, I have no role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use
The Commissioner established Operation Soteria in September 2019 to ensure a reduction of assaults in public, reduce fear of assault within communities, prioritise assault investigations, focus on problem areas and assault hotspots. Operation Soteria includes targeting knife crimes, in areas where it is shown to be relevant and necessary.
The operation is based upon the five Principles for Implementation: Commitment to Protecting People and Communities; Awareness and Education as a crime prevention technique; Policing Operational Efficiency; Location Management by working in partnership; and Offender Management.
Gardaí in the DMR North Central division engaged with schools, youth programmes and colleges as part of this Operation, however, due to the Covid-19 emergency since March 2020, such engagements have been hampered. Garda management in the DMR North Central have also engaged with the owners of licensed premises regarding the initiative, particularly during the divisional licensed premises inspections.
I am conscious that the usual levels of community engagement and youth services are not possible during Covid-19 restrictions. However, my Department and An Garda Síochána will continue their outreach programmes, engagement and interventions but will formulate new ways of targeting young people when they cannot participate in their normal activities and programmes.
The Deputy may also wish to note that in September and November 2020, Community Gardaí gave presentations to 250 Medical Students in Croke Park and to Transition Year Students at St Paul's CBS North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7 and Stanhope Street Girls School. The presentations highlighted the dangers of assault and knife crime and the consequences for engaging in this behaviour as part of the “use your brain, not your fists” campaign.
There have been 241 recorded arrests associated with Operation Soteria from the period 3 December 2019 to 17 February 2021 within the DMR North Central Division.