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Written Answers. - Crime Prevention.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

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 41. Mr. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  the extent to which Garda strength is adequate to meet requirements, having regard to the needs generated by organised crime, increased crime levels generally and public concern; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18527/02]

 159. Mr. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  the measures he proposes to combat increased levels of organised crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18752/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I propose to take Questions Nos. 41 and 159 together.

Organised crime is a relatively recent phenomenon in Ireland. Its development has been influenced to a considerable extent by the creation of, and consequent need to supply, an illegal drugs [1154] market. Measures taken by the Government in recent years, such as the Proceeds of Crime Act, 1996, the Disclosure of Certain Information for Taxation and Other Purposes Act, 1996, the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996 and the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996 provide for a modern criminal justice system geared to cope with the challenges posed by organised criminal groups.

In addition, the establishment of the Criminal Assets Bureau and other specialised Garda support units such as the national drugs unit, the national immigration unit, the Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation has had a major impact with significant drug seizures, seizures of assets, dismantling of major criminal groups and the imprisonment or departure abroad of a number of major criminals.

The specialised Garda support units, which operate under the direction of a dedicated assistant commissioner, work closely with and act as an expert resource centre for all sections of the Garda Síochána. These units respond to all aspects of serious and organised crime, including trafficking in illicit drugs and human beings, armed robberies, financial crime, counterfeiting and high-tech crime, including child pornography.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that changes in crime levels, developments in organised crime and public concerns in this regard are monitored on a regular basis. The deployment of Garda resources is also kept under constant review to ensure that an appropriate response is available to meet needs in these areas. The Garda authorities have also informed me, in this regard, that the current Garda strength is adequate to meet these needs.

I might mention that the total personnel strength of An Garda Síochána (all ranks) for the years ending 31 December 1997 to 31 December 2002 and the personnel strength at present is set out hereunder:

Year Strength
1997 10,968
1998 11,235
1999 11,458
2000 11,640
2001 11,815
14/10/2002 11,873

This represents an increase of 905 in that period, or 8.25%.

An additional 122 gardaí are due to be attested to the Garda Síochána on 28 November 2002.


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