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Question

33. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will address the drop in the number of community gardaí; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49601/18]

Answer

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.
Community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána as it recognises that every community, either urban or rural, has its own concerns and expectations. All Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. The official categorisation of Community Garda simply refers to those who are exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities and civil society including giving talks to schools, community groups and others. 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 the area and its specific needs.
I am advised that An Garda Síochána is currently developing a New Community Policing Framework which is in draft format awaiting approval of the Garda Executive. I understand that under this new Framework which will take into account the recommendations of the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, it is envisaged that Community policing may be a specialism in some urban areas. In rural areas, it may be more of a hybrid model where all Gardaí in a District have a community responsibility but also having to attend normal policing duties.
The Deputy will appreciate that the moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2009 resulted in a reduction in Garda numbers across the organisation including Community Gardaí. I am informed by the Commissioner that 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, for the first time since 2011. This and ongoing recruitment will clearly provide the Commissioner with the resources to increase Garda visibility in our communities and to support all Garda activity including community policing.
The information in relation to the number of Community Gardaí by Division in each of the years 2008 as to 31 October 2018, the latest date for which figures are available is available on my Department’s website through the link:
Community Garda Strength
For more general information on Garda Facts and Figures please see the link:
http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures.