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Question

28. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the action being taken to address the 41% fall in the number of Garda traffic corps in the Dublin northern metropolitan region since 2011. [15763/17]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Garda Commissioner, who is responsible for the allocation of Garda resources, has indicated in her Policing Plan for 2017 a commitment to increase the number of personnel dedicated to traffic duties by 10% to reflect the increasing numbers of personnel across the entire organisation and which should also lead to better outcomes in relation to road traffic enforcement.
An Garda Síochána’s Modernisation and Renewal Programme also sets out key strategic objectives for Road Policing which will inform and guide An Garda Síochána's Road Policing plans over the next 5 years. Under the Programme, the Garda Commissioner will undertake a number of road safety traffic enforcement initiatives, including expanding the use of technology and increasing checkpoints.
This Government is committed to ensuring visible, effective and responsive policing throughout the country in order to strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and prevent crime. To make this a reality for all, the Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. In 2017, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Funding has also been provided for the recruitment of 300 Garda Reserves.
Given that there was no recruitment for a period of five years, it will take some time before there are fully trained officers available to adequately replace personnel that have retired across the entire organisation, including the Traffic Corps. However, the Commissioner has confirmed that the personnel requirement of the Garda Traffic Corps is currently being assessed to identify the most vulnerable areas in regard to serious traffic collisions and the level of compliance with Road Traffic Legislation. I understand that the Assistant Commissioner with responsibility for Roads Policing is currently assessing the capacity of Divisions and Districts to identify and target areas where An Garda Síochána could accelerate the deployment of personnel to traffic in 2017. The filling of any vacancies identified will be conducted on a structured basis and will be further enhanced with the recently renewed recruitment campaigns to An Garda Síochána. The Deputy will also be aware that the Garda Commissioner has in the last few days announced the restructuring of traffic policing with the creation of a new Roads Policing Unit to be led by Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn.
Ireland has over a number of years developed a multi-agency approach to road safety through the involvement of a number of agencies working in partnership, under the aegis of the Road Safety Strategy. Under this year's Policing Plan, new measures will be explored with partner agencies in relation to driver compliance and the promotion of a safe and crime-free road network. The Plan also points to the enhancement of the use of technology to continue to deprive criminals of the use of the road network and to develop policing capabilities. Among the road traffic initiatives identified in the Plan are the strengthening and re-development of the Traffic Corps to tackle all forms of criminality on our road network and ongoing planning, risk assessment and operational preparation for major emergencies in conjunction with emergency management partners.
Road traffic legislation is, of course, also enforced as part of the day to day duties of members of An Garda Síochána. Both targeted and general methods of enforcement have a valuable role to play in An Garda Síochána's enforcement programme, which targets locations with a view to preventing the commission of offences, detecting errant motorists, changing their behaviour and ultimately reducing death and injuries on our roads.