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Question

6. Deputy John Lahart asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the action being taken to address the 27% fall in the number of personnel in the Garda traffic corps in Dublin since 2011. [15755/17]

Answer

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. This should also lead to better outcomes regarding road traffic enforcement.
The modernisation and renewal programme, which is being overseen by the Policing Authority, contains key strategic objectives for road policing which will inform and guide An Garda Síochána's road policing plans over the next five years. The overall point I would make is that it is critical that we continue recruitment because it is through continuing recruitment involving more people being recruited rather than retiring that An Garda Síochána will be in a position to allocate more gardaí for community policing and road traffic policing and across the system. This is what we need to see. People will welcome that because we need visible, efficient and responsive policing throughout the country to strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and prevent crime. The Deputy knows that the workforce plan to bring the numbers to 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members and 2,000 reserve members is in place. The Deputy will have seen the recruitment advertisements that appeared last week. Many Members of this House will welcome that new recruitment. 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 Reserve personnel. It will take some time given that there was no recruitment for five years because of the economic situation. Thankfully, that is being reversed and we can invest again. This will help in this area. This is combined with all the issues we were talking about this week that need change and more rigorous enforcement.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
It will take some time before there are fully trained officers available to replace adequately personnel who 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 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 recent 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 relating 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 develop policing capabilities. Among the road traffic initiatives identified in the plan are the strengthening and redevelopment of the traffic corps to tackle all forms of criminality on our road network, 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.