19. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of civilian staff employed by An Garda Síochána; and the percentage of the overall An Garda Síochána staff attributable to overall numbers. [12005/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that as of 31 January 2019, there were approximately 2,530 civilian staff employed by An Garda Síochána, undertaking a range of administrative and technical duties in the organisation. As of the same date, the total Garda strength was approximately 14,000. In this regard civilian staff now account for approximately 15% of the overall Garda workforce.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Government's vision is for a Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 to include 15,000 Garda members and 4,000 Garda Staff. The projected 4,000 Garda Staff represents a medium-term target of 20% of the Garda full-time workforce comprised of civilians. This target will be achieved through a twin-track approach of firstly, a “civilian by default” policy in relation to the filling of all new posts other than operational policing posts and for non-operational policing posts that become vacant and, secondly, the redeployment of Gardaí to policing roles where their skills can be used to best effect, with the backfilling of these roles by suitably qualified civilians, where necessary.
Progress is being made in relation to civilianisation. Since the beginning of 2017 approximately 350 new civilian posts have been sanctioned by the Policing Authority with the consent of my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The bulk of these were to address critical skills gaps and capacity issues with a proportion sanctioned to make a start on the redeployment of Gardaí to policing duties.
I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that as of 31 December 2018, approximately 260 Gardaí have been redeployed to operational policing duties. I further welcome the Garda Commissioner’s decision to recruit a net 600 Garda staff in 2019. The recruitment of these additional Garda staff will allow the Commissioner to redeploy a further 500 Gardaí from administrative duties to visible frontline policing duties in 2019.
This approach to continued and increased recruitment of civilian personnel is very much in line with the Report of the Commission for the Future of Policing in Ireland. This Report was approved by Government in December. Civilianisation and redeployment are among the key projects being progressed in 2019 in the Implementation Plan published by Government in December - ‘A Policing Service for the Future’ - and I am confident the full realisation of these projects will deliver a better policing service to the public.