Wednesday, 16 February 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
79. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the extent to which the extra 2000 gardaí promised have been achieved to date; his future plans on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5057/05]
99. Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of members of the Garda Síochána at the latest date for which figures are available; the number expected to be recruited during 2005; the anticipated membership at the end of 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4922/05]
I have been informed by the Garda authorities, which are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the attested personnel strength of the Garda Síochána as of 11 February 2005 was 12,151, all ranks. The anticipated attested strength at end 2005 is 12,280, all ranks.
The House will be aware that the Government has approved my proposal to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members on a phased basis, in line with the An Agreed Programme for Government commitment in this regard. This is a key commitment in the programme for Government, and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.
As a basis for implementing this commitment the commissioner has drawn up a project plan which has three key elements: the recruitment of sufficient additional Garda trainees to achieve the target strength; relocating the in-service training facilities from the Garda college so that the college can concentrate on training recruits; and expanding the facilities at the Garda college.
A new recruitment campaign for the Garda Síochána was launched on Thursday, 25 November 2004 and over 10,600 applications were received. This high level of applications was no doubt aided by the increase in the maximum recruitment age from 26 to 35, as approved by the Government in November 2004 on foot of a recommendation by the commissioner.
For the period 2005 to 2007, around 275 recruits will be taken into the college every quarter. The intake of this first tranche of 275 students to the Garda college took place on the week commencing Monday, 7 February 2005 and arrangements are in place for the current recruitment competition to be progressed further so as to provide for the second intake of 275 students on 3 May this year. It is estimated that 526 Garda trainees will become attested members of the force in 2005.
Taking into account the projected number of retirements, the new recruitment drive will lead to a combined organisational strength, of both attested gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,000 as early as end 2006. The commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources. Clearly, of course, the additional resources will be targeted at the areas of greatest need, as is envisaged in the programme for Government. The programme identifies in particular areas with a significant drugs problem and a large number of public order offences, but it will be possible to address other priorities as well, such as the need to very significantly increase the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties as part of the new Garda traffic corps. I have already promised that the additional gardaí will not be put on administrative duties. They will be put directly into frontline, operational, high-visibility policing. They will have a real impact.
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