Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding tackling violent crimes involving knives; the new initiatives under way to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13092/19]
490. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the actions taken to date to monitor the prevalence and frequency of individuals carrying knife and knife-like instruments on their persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13093/19]
491. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 303 of 27 November 2018, the number of crimes in which a knife was used or was an element of the crime in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13094/19]
504. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the oversight mechanism by which his Department identifies trends in the use of knives by individuals engaged in criminal activities in view of continued difficulties in the collection of information on the PULSE database. [13233/19]
505. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of knives seized by An Garda Síochána by county in each of the years 2016 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13234/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 489 to 491, inclusive, 504 and 505 together.
The Deputy will be aware that the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistics agency, is responsible for the publication of recorded crime statistics.
While the statistical information being sought by the Deputy is not currently being published by the CSO, I can advise the Deputy that my Department received a report from An Garda Síochána in relation to knife seizures, which indicates year on year increases in the numbers of knives seized by An Garda Síochána, with approximately 1,200 seized in 2016, 1,600 seized in 2017 and almost 2,000 seized last year.
I am advised that An Garda Síochána is addressing the issue of knife crime through education and engagement with community initiatives. At an operational level, An Garda Síochána pro-actively targets public disorder and anti-social behaviour, including knife-related crime, through the strategic deployment of Garda resources, and areas identified as public order hot-spots by local Garda management are the subject of additional foot and mobile patrols.
I am further informed that An Garda Síochána established a Working Group to formulate a "National Strategy to Deal with Assaults against the Person". An Garda Síochána has included knife crime as part of the remit of the working group tasked with drafting the strategy.
The working group will continue to monitor the prevalence and frequency of individuals carrying a knife and knife-like instruments on their person, whilst devising a strategy to tackle assaults against the person, including assaults involving the use of a knife. The working group is expected to present a draft strategy to the Garda Executive for consideration by July 2019.
My Department also wrote to the Garda authorities in February 2019 to seek an update on the recent work of An Garda Síochána in tackling knife-related crime, and in particular the progress being made by Gardaí to improve the quality of knife crime statistics recorded on the PULSE system.
When a response is received, and has been fully considered by my Department, I hope to able to provide the Deputy with an update.