216. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the estimated cost of increasing the number of community gardaí by 25%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20522/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): There has been an unprecedented level of investment in Garda resources across the State in recent years. The budgetary allocation to An Garda Síochána for 2019 amounts to €1.76 billion. Very significant capital investment is also being made, including investment of €342 million in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021; and investment of €46 million in the Garda Fleet over the same period. This continuing investment supports the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.
In accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána and for the allocation of Garda resources, in light of his identified operational demands. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I understand however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána as it recognises that every community, either urban or rural, has its own concerns and expectations. The role of a community Garda is not a specialist role in An Garda Síochána; rather it is the case that all Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. The official categorisation of Community Garda simply refers to those who are exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities and civil society including giving talks to schools, community groups and others. It is a matter for the Divisional Chief Superintendent to determine the optimum distribution of duties among the personnel available to him or her having regard to the profile of the area and its specific needs.
I am informed by the Garda Síochána that as at 31 March 2019, there were a total of 714 Community Gardaí across three Garda ranks. I am further informed that the estimated incremental salary costs for an increase of 25% in this number would be as set out in the table (all figures rounded).
|Garda Ranks||25% increase|
|Dedicated Community Gardaí||€ 8,741,000|
|Dedicated Community Sergeants||€ 1,544,000|
|Dedicated Community Inspectors||€ 149,000|