37. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the Garda Reserve numbers in each Garda division for each of the past five years and to date in 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15751/17]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner 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 the 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.
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 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. This year, 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.
I was pleased to recently announce the launch of a new recruitment campaign for Garda Reserves in pursuance of the Programme for Government commitment to increase the strength of the Reserve to 2,000 by 2021. Garda Reserve members act in a supportive role undertaking local patrols and other crime reduction measures. They have undergone training in many of the skills required to be effective full-time members of An Garda Síochána and it is important that we build on the very real contribution that they are making to the policing of communities right across the country.
I would encourage anyone interested in pursuing policing as a career to consider first becoming a member of the Reserve where they can see at first-hand what being a member of An Garda Síochána actually involves. The competition is being run by the Public Appointments Service on behalf of the Garda Commissioner and applications can be made online by 13 April, 2017 through www.publicjobs.ie.
For the Deputy's information I have set out in the following table, as provided by the Commissioner, the strength of the Garda Reserve in each Division from 2012 to 28 February 2017, the latest date for which figures are readily available.
As the Deputy is aware, there has been a substantial reduction in the strength of the Reserve in recent years. The fall-off arises from a range of factors, not least the lifting in 2014 of the moratorium on recruitment of trainee Gardaí which has affected Reserve numbers in two ways - firstly approximately 200 serving Reserves have successfully applied to become trainee Gardaí, and secondly, resources in both An Garda Síochána and in the Public Appointment Service have been focused on delivering an accelerated programme of recruitment of full time members of An Garda Síochána. I am sure that the Deputy will agree, notwithstanding the very valuable contribution of Reserve members throughout the country, that it was the right decision, with finite resources, to prioritise the running of recruitment campaigns to replenish the full-time ranks of An Garda Síochána over the last three years.
Garda Reserve Strength 2012 - 28 February 2017
|DMR South Central||64||77||80||66||48||39|
|DMR North Central||50||71||73||59||42||40|