157. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Justice the number of community gardaí in the Blanchardstown 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. [57944/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): 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. The Commissioner is also responsible, under Section 26 of the Act, for the management and administration of Garda business, including the recruitment and training of Garda members and staff. As Minister, I play no direct role in these independent functions.
I am assured, however, 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 as a Community Garda has simply referred to those exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities and civil society including 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 all Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. Indeed, 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.
I have been informed that as of 31 October 2021, there are 30 Community Gardaí in the Blanchardstown Garda District. At the same period last year, there were 39 Community Gardaí in the District.
I am further informed that the Blanchardstown District has an overall strength of 339 members of all ranks as of 31 October 2021. This is an increase of 9.3% since the end of 2016, when there were 310 members assigned to the District.