14. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if An Garda Síochána has the necessary resources for policing operations over the Christmas period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49665/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): In the first instance, I want to clarify that it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the allocation of the very substantial resources that An Garda Síochána receives. I do not interfere in policing matters nor can I direct the Commissioner where to deploy resources. The allocation of Garda resources is solely a matter for the Commissioner, in the light of identified operational demands over the festive season and is not a matter for which I, as Minister, have direct responsibility.
The resources available to the Commissioner have reached unprecedented levels. I am pleased that Budget 2019 provides for the continuation of this increase in resources with an increase of €110 million in the Garda Vote to bring total provision available in 2019 to €1.76 billion which includes up to €95 million for the payment of overtime.
Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities including the need ensure community safety and the safety of our roads over the festive season, when there can be seasonal increases in burglary, public order and road traffic incidents and offences. To ensure that optimum use is made of resources policing plans are put in place by Divisional Officers which address the particular needs of each Division taking into account of seasonal factors which can have a bearing.
One such initiative is the Lock up Light Up campaign which is part of Operation Thor and encourages homeowners to protect their homes over the winter months, when burglaries traditionally tend to rise. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that Operation Thor has led to concentrated Garda activity resulting, as of 18 November 2018, in over 168,636 targeted checkpoints and 234,277 crime prevention patrols nationwide. This concentrated policing activity against burglary and property-related crime has produced in the region of 8,837 arrests and 10,143 charges covering a range of offences, which, in addition to burglary, include handling stolen property, possession of firearms and drugs offences.
Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,200 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. I look forward to attending the attestation of another 200 recruits tomorrow which will see Garda numbers reach 14,000 by the end of this year. This and on-going recruitment will clearly provide significant additional policing hours throughout the country, both in terms of the increase in new Gardaí and the redeployment of Gardaí to frontline policing duties due to civilianisation of their current roles.
I am informed by the Commissioner that to assist in ensuring that the necessary resources are available for policing operations over the festive period that, following their attestation this Friday the new probationer Gardaí, will be assigned, on a temporary basis, to urban areas including Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Drogheda to increase Garda visibility and support the Divisional Roads Policing Units. Under direct supervision they will play an active role in delivering front line policing services, increasing safety in our communities and on our roads over the coming festive period.
I am satisfied that Garda management is acutely aware of the need to utilise the resources being made available to them in the most efficient and effective manner to ensure high visibility policing in our communities both urban and rural throughout the year including the festive season.