The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Brian Lenihan T.D., today opened a consultation seminar on Joint Policing Committees (JPCs) to review the experiences of the 29 pilot committees and the guidelines under which they operate. 

The seminar, being held in Dublin and which is also being addressed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. John Gormley T.D., and Assistant Commissioner Al McHugh, provides an opportunity for members of the pilot JPCs – public representatives, local authority members and Gardaí – to discuss any changes they consider necessary to structures of the committees and the manner in which they operate before JPCs are established next year in all 114 local authorities nationwide. 

Speaking at the seminar, Minister Lenihan said: "We are all aware of problems of public disorder in our communities where the behaviour of those who have no respect for the rights of others can cause great damage to the quality of life. The two groups which have the best picture of the problems relating to crime in our communities are members of An Garda Síochána and public representatives.
I am only too well aware that individual members of An Garda Síochána and public representatives have always tried to work closely together to solve problems in the communities they serve.  Joint Policing Committees provide a structured way in which Gardaí and public representatives can come together, along with other community interests, to address the problems of crime - and, indeed, the problems that may be contributing to crime - in their areas."

Minister Lenihan went on to say: "I believe that it is important that those centrally involved in the Committees which are up and running in the pilot phase have an opportunity to get together and discuss their experiences to date, with colleagues from other Committees and Gardaí who have been involved in the work of the Committees. 

I have made clear since my appointment as Justice Minister the value I place on partnership in tackling crime and Joint Policing Committees will be a cornerstone of that approach."

The Minister stated that it is his intention to establish a Committee in each local authority as early as possible in 2008, following consultation with the Ministers for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. 

Minister Lenihan also referred to the Garda Commissioner’s proposals for changes in Garda boundaries so to achieve a closer alignment between the functional areas of local authorities and Garda Divisional boundaries. This will, the Minister stated, "enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Garda deployment and operational management at a local and regional level and will also facilitate the functioning of the Joint Policing Committees."

The Garda Commissioner’s boundary change proposals form part of the Policing Plan for 2008 and relate to the Garda Regions outside of the Dublin Metropolitan Region. The Commissioner will also be conducting an overall examination of the Divisions and Districts in the Dublin Metropolitan Region in 2008.  The Policing Plan will be published shortly.

29 November 2007

Note to Editors

The 29 pilot phase Joint Policing Committees currently in operation were established in 2006. In accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, which provides for the establishment of such Committees, the guidelines under which the JPC’s operate state that the joint policing committees' function is to serve as a forum for consultations, discussions and recommendations on matters affecting the policing of the local authority's administrative area, in particular by carrying out a number of activities, including arranging and hosting public meetings concerning matters affecting the policing of the local authority's administrative area.

The guidelines also provide that the Committees will act as a mechanism through which elected representatives and local communities can have a role in conveying information and views to Garda Divisional and District Officers to assist them in the formulation and operation of their annual policing plans.

The Garda Síochána Act provides that Joint Policing Committees shall be established and maintained by a local authority and the Garda Commissioner in accordance with the guidelines.  It is therefore the responsibility of each Committee to fulfil the provisions of the guidelines.