20. Deputy John Lahart asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if there are plans in place to increase the number of Garda detectives in the Dublin region; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40444/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner 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 Garda Commissioner that in regard to the deployment of Garda personnel, a distribution model is used which takes into account all relevant factors including population, crime trends and the policing needs of each individual Garda Division. It is the responsibility of the Divisional Officer to allocate personnel within his/her Division.
The Dublin Region is served by members assigned to the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) which consists of 6 Garda Division. The number of Gardaí assigned to the DMR area on the 31 October 2016, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 3,473 of which 214 were Detectives. When appropriate, the work of the DMR is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI), the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (formerly the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation) and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
At the request of the Garda Commissioner earlier this year, the Government moved decisively to strengthen Garda resources to deal with gang-related crime in the Dublin area. In particular funding was approved for the establishment of a dedicated Armed Support Unit for the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) in order to enhance armed support capability in Dublin and to free up the resources of the ERU. Following a selection and training process, the Armed Support Unit for the DMR is now fully operational and providing armed cover on a 24 hour basis.
I am further informed that Operation Hybrid has been established to coordinate the response to violent crime in Dublin and address public concerns about community safety. As of 20 October 2016, there have been 38 arrests and 5 charges brought in connection with the recent shootings. In addition 23 firearms have been seized and over 9,000 lines of enquiry conducted. In excess of 14,350 high visibility checkpoints have been implemented with significant support from Armed Support Units and a significant amount of CCTV footage, mobile phone traffic, and forensic evidence is also being examined. I understand Operation Hybrid is reviewed on a weekly basis to maintain optimal impact.
Underpinning all of these measures is the Government’s commitment to increasing the overall Garda workforce to 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. This process will involve the recruitment of some 3,200 new Garda members on a phased basis over the next four years, to ensure that the service is renewed and has the capacity to provide visible, responsive and effective policing to every community throughout the country.
This is an ambitious target and will require a continuous pipeline of suitable candidates. I am pleased to say that the recruitment campaign launched by the Public Appointments Service on behalf of the Commissioner last September, the second campaign this year, again received a strong response.
I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College, 679 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, including 319 to DMR Divisions. I have no doubt that these new resources now coming on stream will benefit the Detective strength across the Garda Regions including the DMR.
This investment in personnel is complemented by substantial investment in resources across the board for An Garda Síochána. The Deputy will be aware of the significant resources that have been made available to An Garda Síochána under the Government's Capital Plan 2016 - 2021. In particular, some €205 million in additional funding for Garda ICT and €46 million for new Garda vehicles has been allocated over the lifetime of the plan. This investment will facilitate the provision of more effective policing services countrywide including in the Dublin region.