Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if and when consideration will be given to motorised gardaí on the beat by way of moped or quad bike, thereby providing a visible and constant service throughout the community, in view of the fact that such transport can be fitted with the most modern technology; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40776/16]
99. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if and when consideration will be given to motorised gardaí on the beat by way of moped or quad bike throughout County Kildare, thereby providing a visible and constant service throughout the community, in view of the fact that such transport can be fitted with the most modern technology, with particular reference to the growing towns and settlements throughout north Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40777/16]
102. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which all modern communications, training and technology continues to be made available to An Garda Síochána, with particular reference to the need to ensure that policing here is at least on par with neighbouring and EU jurisdictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40780/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 98, 99 and 102 together.
As the Deputy will appreciate, decisions in relation to the provision and allocation of Garda resources are a matter for the Garda Commissioner and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter.
The Deputy will be aware of the significant investment of some €46 million in the Garda Fleet under the Government's Capital Plan 2016 - 2021. In 2016 alone, some 520 vehicles have been deployed in An Garda Síochána with approximately 200 additional vehicles on order. Next year, there will be funding of some €4 million available to further modernise the fleet.
This investment will continue to provide the Gardaí with additional high-powered vehicles, marked and unmarked patrol cars, and motorcycles to ensure that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime. I am advised by the Garda authorities there are no plans at present to introduce mopeds or quad-bikes to the fleet of vehicles available to An Garda Síochána.
In addition, some €330 million, including €205 million under the Capital Plan, is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021 to enable An Garda Síochána to deploy the latest cutting edge technologies in the fight against crime and to facilitate progress on important reforms arising from the Garda Inspectorate's report on Crime Investigation. Examples of the new systems to be developed through this investment include:
-·new computer-aided dispatch to ensure responsive and coordinated deployment of Gardaí in the community;
- mobile technology to give the Gardaí secure mobile access to critical information when and where they need it;
- investigations management systems to ensure enhanced management of crime investigations; and
- upgrading the Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to enhance policing of road safety and compliance.
ANPR is an internationally recognised tool that was introduced into An Garda Síochána in 2008 and is fitted in official Garda vehicles which are allocated in all Garda Divisions and Districts nationwide. ANPR works on the basis of an in-car camera, reading vehicle number plates using optical character recognition technology, which checks each vehicle registration number plate against PULSE to identify, for example, stolen or untaxed vehicles. It also includes a speed detection and video recording capability and is utilised for both roads policing and as an investigative and intelligence tool.
Furthermore, a considerable amount of new Garda ICT solutions has been delivered over the past number of years. These include the deployment of a secure national digital radio system (NDRS), the deployment and support of Garda and Community CCTV systems and the addition of many new functions to the PULSE system, which itself is further supported by a dedicated data entry service in Castlebar.
The Government’s overarching commitment is to ensure a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. In furtherance of this, the Government has approved my proposal for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel to be achieved by 2021, comprising 15,000 Garda members, 4,000 civilians and 2,000 Reserve members. In 2017, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide-ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Appointments will also be made to the Garda Reserve of approximately 300.
The Deputy will also be aware that the Commissioner launched the Garda Síochána Modernisation and Renewal Programme 2016-2021 in June which takes on board the key findings of various reports into An Garda Síochána by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and expert groups, amongst others. The Programme is intended to professionalise, modernise and renew An Garda Síochána to ensure that the organisation can meet present and future challenges.