125. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will immediately reinstate Terenure Garda station, Dublin 6, as a 24-hour station, in view of the vicinity experiencing a 24% increase in its annual figures for burglaries; if she will sanction additional resources and extra personnel to An Garda Síochána for the Terenure area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17031/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can assure the Deputy that I am very conscious of the concerns which exist in relation to these sorts of crimes and their impact on householders and communities. The specific policing strategies which are deployed in relation to these of types of crimes are of course a matter for the Garda Commissioner to determine. In this regard I am advised that local Garda management closely monitor the incidence of burglary and related property crimes in the area in question and put appropriate policing responses in place.
An Garda Síochána is responding to the incidence of burglary in the Dublin area through Operation Acer, which is in force throughout the Dublin Metropolitan Region. This includes a particular focus on identifying and targeting criminal groups involved in this criminality. Burglary Response Units attached to each Division take the lead in Operation Acer and are assisted by other units as required. In addition, a further and related operation, Operation Creeper, assists in the surveillance of Acer targets by monitoring their movements and this Operation has been tasked solely with targeting burglary suspects which has resulted in the successful arrests of Acer targets. These Operations are all coordinated under Operation Fiacla, which is the national operation targeting burglary using an intelligence and analysis-led approach.
Since Operation Acer commenced in early 2012, I am advised that there has been 5,389 arrests, 2,746 charges and 1,087 convictions for burglary in the Dublin area, up to 3 February 2015.
I can also advise the Deputy that in addition to these policing responses, I am currently carrying out a broader and urgent review of the criminal justice system's response to the problem of burglaries. In this regard I am working closely with the Garda Commissioner and other relevant criminal justice agencies to ensure that an effective, whole of system response is in place in relation to burglary. This includes a focus on interagency measures in relation to the management of prolific offenders, visible policing, crime prevention support for communities, and an examination of legislative issues. Burglary is a persistent and highly damaging crime, and I am committed to tackling it on a number of fronts, and through a partnership approach between criminal justice agencies and the community.
Specifically turning to Terenure Garda station, I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of Dublin Metropolitan Region (D.M.R.) South as of 28 February 2015, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 540 of which there were 90 Garda assigned to Terenure Garda Station. There are also 41 Garda Reserves and 27 civilians attached to the D.M.R. South Garda Division. Terenure Garda station is opened 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Sunday. Outside of these hours telephone calls to Terenure are diverted to Rathmines Garda station which is opened to the public 24 hours. It is important to remember that while the Garda station in question has reduced opening hours to the public, it will remain as a functioning Garda station on a 24 hour basis.
Finally, the Deputy will be aware that the first intake since 2009 of 100 new recruits entered training at the Garda College, Templemore, on 15 September 2014. As part of Budget 2015, a further intake of 200 recruits in two batches was announced. On 15 December 2014, the first 100 of these batches commenced their training. The remaining 100 entered the college in early February. This will bring to 300 the number of recruits in the Garda College and is a measure of the Government's commitment to ensure that recruitment to An Garda Síochána continues seamlessly. The September intake attested as members of the Garda Síochána on the 23 April 2015 and the December intake will attest in Summer 2015. In addition, I have received sanction from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for two further intakes of 125 Garda recruits later this year. On attestation they are assigned to Garda stations throughout the country by the Garda Commissioner.
The Deputy will also be aware that I am making specific funding available for new specialised vehicles to support an enhanced operational response by Gardaí to current and emerging crime threats, including crimes being committed by highly-mobile gangs.