784. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the number of knives that have been seized by An Garda Síochána in each of the years 2015 to 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16406/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): To be of assistance to the Deputy, I have contacted the Garda Authorities for the information requested and I have been advised that, for the years in question, the number of knives seized by An Garda Síochána are as follows:
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the 2016-2018 increase in recorded seizures is due in large part to the introduction of the Property and Exhibit Management System (PEMS) in 2016, which improved the level of recording of all objects seized, including knives. The increase may also be partly attributed to the increase in frontline resources due to additional recruitment and redeployment of members following the reopening of the Garda College.
More recently, the increases in seizures are also due to proactive policing operations, particularly during 2020, with the increased Garda presence in support of the COVID-19 public health measures. There was a 4.7% increase in the number of knives seized between 2019 and 2020 (2,142 in 2019 and 2,243 in 2020). There was also a substantial year-on-year increase in the number of searches conducted in 2020 – many of which were associated with An Garda Síochána’s high visibility operations supporting the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated Garda operations (such as Operation Fanacht).
For the Deputy's information, An Garda Síochána has published a report on their website with further analysis of the data above, available at the following link:
In addition, it should be noted that according to HSE data there has been a gradual reduction in people who have been kept in overnight for injuries where they have been assaulted by a knife from the period of 2006 to 2011, where there was on average 243 incidents annually, to an average of 178 incidents per annum between 2015 and 2019.