145. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice the current strength of An Garda Síochána and the Garda Reserve; her Department’s plans to further increase the strength of An Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57949/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended), for the management of An Garda Síochána as well as the allocation and distribution of resources. This includes responsibility for the recruitment, training and deployment of Garda members and members of the Garda Reserve. As Minister, I have no responsibility in these matters.
I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review, in the context of emerging crime trends, policing priorities and identified operational needs, to ensure their optimum use.
The overall strength of An Garda Síochána as of 31 October 2021, the latest date for when figures are available, is 14,298 and the current strength of the Garda reserve is at 439 across the country. In addition, there are currently over 3,000 Garda Staff.
I am pleased that Budget 2022 reflects the commitment of the Government to enhancing community safety and that An Garda Síochána has the resources to be an effective and trusted policing service.
To this end, Budget 2022 includes funding for the recruitment of 800 new Garda recruits and 400 Garda staff in 2022 - a further additional 1,200 personnel. This planned increase in the number of Garda members and staff is designed to deliver significant growth in operational policing hours nationwide and improved public safety and 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. Implementation will of course be dependent on public health guidelines but I very much hope it will be possible to maximise the intake to Templemore next year. It is intended to launch details of a new Garda Recruitment campaign early in 2022.
Both the Garda Commissioner and I are particularly keen that the new competition will focus on the need for greater diversity among Gardaí and we would encourage all those with an interest in joining the organisation to consider doing so.
The Garda Commissioner recently published the Garda Reserve Strategy which has a focus on how to make best use of the Reserve and a commitment regarding future recruitment of the Reserve. While Reserve recruitment has not reached the targets initially set, Garda management and Government are committed to continuing to support the growth and contribution of the Reserve over the coming years to 2,000.