Thursday, 8 June 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
32. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he is taking to improve rural policing; the policy measures he intends to introduce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22005/06]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána is set to rise to a record 12,641 today following the attestation of 273 new members. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June 1997 and represents an increase of 1,939 (or 18.1%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period.
I am informed by the Commissioner that the rural model of Community Policing has been well established for a number of years and has been a useful instrument in the delivery of a more effective Garda service in rural areas. Community Rural Policing has recently been reviewed jointly with Muintir na Tire and proposals arising from this are currently under consideration by the Commissioner.
It is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Garda Divisions, on a priority basis in accordance with the requirements of different areas, taking account of the various operational policing needs, including Community Rural Policing. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends and administrative functions. Such allocations are continually monitored and reviewed by senior Garda management along with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy. This ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and that the best possible service is provided to the public.
I should add that the current recruitment drive to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members, in line with the commitment in the Agreed Programme for Government, is fully on target. This will lead to a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,000 by the end of this year. The first group of newly attested Gardaí under the accelerated recruitment programme came on stream in March and the second such group comes on stream today. Further tranches of approximately 275 newly attested Gardaí will follow every 90 days hereafter until the programme is complete.
The Garda Commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources, and in this context the needs of rural areas will be given the fullest consideration.
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