307. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of full time equivalent gardaí stationed in Ronanstown and Ballyfermot Garda stations, by type of gardaí (details supplied); his plans to increase the number of gardaí stationed at these stations in the coming years; if his attention has been drawn to the level of antisocial behaviour in Palmerstown, Dublin 20 which is served by these two stations; and his views on whether the current allocation of gardaí is sufficient to address the needs of the areas covered. [9387/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.
As the Deputy will be aware the Garda Stations of Ballyfermot and Ronanstown form part of the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) West Division. I am informed by the Commissioner that the strength of the DMR West Division on 31 January 2018, the latest date for which information is readily available, was 667 of whom 64 are designated as Community Gardaí. There are also 26 Garda Reserves and 53 Garda civilian staff attached to the DMR West Division. When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Armed Support Units, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. To achieve this the Government has put in place a plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. We are making real, tangible progress on achieving this goal.
I am informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, just under 1,600 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána of whom 137 have been assigned to the DMR West Division. Of these 18 and 14 have been assigned to Ronanstown and Ballyfermot Garda Stations respectively.
I am pleased to say that Garda numbers, taking account of retirements, increased to 13,551 at the end of 2017 - a net increase of over 600 since the end of 2016.
I am also pleased that funding is in place to maintain this high level of investment in the Garda workforce to ensure that the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. This year a further 800 new Garda Recruits will enter the Garda College. Also 800 Garda trainees are scheduled to attest during the year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, reach 14,000 by the end of 2018.
In addition, a further 500 civilians will also be recruited to fill critical skills gaps across the organisation and to facilitate the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and technical duties to front-line operational duties. There are plans to strengthen the Garda Reserve with new Reserves expected to commence training in 2018.
This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána. We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Division, including the DMR West Division.
I have requested a report from the Commissioner in relation to the measure in place to tackle antisocial behaviour in the area referred to by the Deputy and I will write directly to the Deputy when the report is to hand.
For the Deputy’s information I have set out below in tabular form the total number of Gardaí and the number of Gardaí categorised as Community Gardaí attached to Ballyfermot and Ronanstown Garda stations as of 31 January 2018, the latest date for which figures are readily available.