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Question

120. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Justice the number of community gardaí in the Ballymun Garda district as of 1 November 2021 or the latest date available; the number in the 12 months previously; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57943/21]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): I thank Deputy McAuliffe for raising the important issue of the number of gardaí in the Ballymun Garda district. The Deputy has been very strong on this matter, both in this Chamber and behind the scenes.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible, under section 33 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, for the deployment of An Garda Síochána throughout the State. However, I am assured that Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of policing priorities and crime trends to ensure their optimum use. I further understand that 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 each area within the division and its specific needs.
To date, the official categorisation of community garda has simply referred to those who are exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities and civil society, including through giving talks to schools, community groups and others. However, it is important to note that community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána and that all gardaí have a role to play in community policing in the course of carrying out their duties. This is fundamental to the new Garda operating model recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and currently being rolled out under A Policing Service for Our Future, the Government's implementation plan for the commission's recommendations.
The recommendations of the report, Ballymun - A Brighter Future, are reflected in the objectives of the youth justice strategy which the Minister, Deputy McEntee, and I published in April 2021. These include the principle of diverting young people from antisocial and criminal behaviour, developing supports centred on the needs of children and young persons that take account of issues such as trauma, supporting young people in education and considering alternative approaches, where appropriate, and employing innovative approaches to help break cycles of offending, including multisystemic therapy and a specialised approach to combat coercive control of young people by criminal groups. In the most recent budget, we got an additional €6.7 million in the budget for our youth justice strategy, an increase of almost 40%.