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Question

48. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of new Garda recruits assigned to the Sligo-Leitrim Garda division in each year since Garda recruitment resumed in 2014; and the attested personnel strength of the Sligo-Leitrim Garda division in September 2014 and at the end of February 2017. [15768/17]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): 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 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 plan is well on course to be achieved. 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 am advised that, since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, there has been a total intake of some 1,400 new recruits with another 600 scheduled to enter the College by the end of this year. I am informed by the Commissioner that some 839 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, 13 of whom have been assigned to the Sligo/Leitrim Division. I am also informed that another 750 trainee Garda are scheduled to attest this year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end - a net increase of 700 in the total Garda strength since recruitment recommenced.
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 she needs to allow her to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Garda Division, including the Sligo/Leitrim Division in the coming years.
In so far as the allocation of newly attested Gardaí is concerned, this is a matter for the Garda Commissioner. I am assured by the Commissioner that the needs of all Garda Divisions are fully considered when determining the allocation of resources. However, it is important to keep in mind that newly attested Gardaí have a further 16 months of practical and classroom based training to complete in order to receive their BA in Applied Policing. To ensure that they are properly supported and supervised and have opportunities to gain the breadth of policing experience required, the Commissioner's policy is to allocate them to specially designated training stations which have the required training and development structures and resources in place, including trained Garda tutors and access to a permanently appointed supervisory Sergeant who is thoroughly familiar with their responsibilities under the training programme.
For ease of reference the table below provides, for the record, details of the number of newly attested Gardaí allocated to the Sligo/Leitrim Division, since the first attestation of trainee Garda in April 2015. It also provides details of the number of Gardaí assigned to the Division from 30 September 2014 to 28 February 2017, the latest date for which figures are readily available.

Year Personnel Strength Number of newly attested Garda
2014 296 n/a
2015 294 5
2016 297 5
2017 301 3