Thursday, 14 April 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
138. Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number, gender and rank of gardaí that are allocated to the drug squad in Sligo; the other resources that are allocated to the drug squad in Sligo; the number of gardaí attached to the drug squad nationally; if he intends to increase the number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11593/05]
The divisional drugs unit for Sligo-Leitrim has the use of an unmarked patrol car, full use of mobile phones, a dedicated office and full use of the Garda radio system. The personnel strength of the Garda National Drugs Unit, who have a national remit, as at 13 April 2005 was 50, all ranks. The information requested on the number of gardaí attached to the drug units nationally is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.
To ensure the development of a co-ordinated and integrated approach is in place to tackle the drugs problem, the Government in 2002, established ten regional drugs task forces across the country based on the old health board areas. The north-western regional drug task force’s area of remit includes Sligo. The Garda Síochána and the Probation and Welfare Service are both represented on this group. Since their establishment, the task forces, including the north-western regional drug task force have been involved in a process of mapping out the nature and extent of drug misuse in their regions and they are developing action plans to tackle the problem which will be presented to Government during 2005.
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.
The Commissioner will draw up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources. The needs of the Garda drugs unit will be fully considered within the context of the needs of Garda units throughout the country. 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 high proportion of public order offences, but it will be possible to address other priorities as well, such as the need to increase the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties as part of the new Garda traffic corps. The additional gardaí will not be put on administrative duties but will be put directly into frontline, operational, high-visibility policing. They will have a real impact.
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