Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí in County Laois by station on 30 April 2016 and 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47344/17]
111. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí to be recruited to counties Laois and Offaly; the number recruited for these counties since 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47509/17]
113. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if additional community gardaí will be made available to counties Laois and Offaly in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47511/17]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 101, 111 and 113 together.
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.
I am informed by the Commissioner that the Garda strength of the Laois/Offaly Division on 30 September 2017, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 324, 8 of whom are community Gardaí. There are also 17 Garda Reserves and 25 civilians attached to the Division. When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
I am further informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, close to 1,400 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, 66 of whom have been assigned to the Laois/Offaly Division, 37 of whom were assigned since 2016. In addition, another 200 trainee Garda are scheduled to attest later this year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end - an increase of 500 since the end of 2016.
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 to deter crime. The substantial increase in Garda numbers is tangible progress on achieving this Government’s vision of an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians.
I am pleased to say that Budget 2018 will support the continuation of this high level of investment in the Garda workforce and ensure that the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. A further 800 new Garda Recruits will enter the Garda College, an additional 500 civilians will also be recruited to fill critical skills gaps across the organisation and to facilitate the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and technical duties to front-line operational duties . There are plans to strengthen the Garda Reserve with new Reserves expected to commence training early in 2018.
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 needed to deploy increasing numbers of Community Gardaí across every Garda Division, including the Laois/Offaly Division, in the coming years.
This investment in personnel is complemented by substantial investment in resources across the board for An Garda Síochána. Some €330 million, including €205 million under the Capital Plan, is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure over the period 2016 to 2021.
The Capital Plan 2016 – 2021 provides for an investment of €46 million the Garda fleet to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit for purpose fleet. This is in addition to the investment of almost €30 million in the period 2013 to 2015. In the period 2013 to end of 2017 almost €44 million will have been invested in the fleet with some 2,000 vehicles coming on stream in that period.
This investment in resources will facilitate the provision of more effective policing services and increased Garda visibility within our communities and I expect that the Laois/Offaly Division, like all other Garda Divisions will benefit from these new resources becoming available.
I am informed by the Commissioner that the Garda strength of the Laois/Offaly Division on 30 April 2016 and the 30 April 2017 is as set out in the following table:
STRENGTH OF THE LAOIS/OFFALY DIVISION
|DISTRICT||STATION||30 April 2016||30 APRIL 2017|