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Written Answers. - Garda Operations.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

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 158. 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 PULSE technology has been extended throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18751/02]

 161. 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  if state of the art technology is readily available to the Garda; if the force has to rely on overseas assistance in any circumstance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18754/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I propose to take Questions Nos. 158 and 161 together.

I am committed to providing the Garda with the necessary resources to assist it in the fight against crime. In the area of technology, the [1227] resources available to the Garda have been significantly enhanced in recent years and a number of projects are ongoing which will further add to the effectiveness of the force.

Specifically, the PULSE system is available at 181 locations which include divisional and district headquarters and all major city stations. Under this level of coverage, 85% of all incidents are directly captured and over 75% of Garda personnel have direct access to PULSE systems in their own stations. At the same time, training for the system has been undertaken for members in other stations who also have the means to link up with the PULSE network indirectly. It is generally accepted that major computer systems are extremely expensive. It is considered that the correct balance between cost and availability has been achieved with this level of coverage. However, this is a situation that will be kept under review in the light of advancements in technology, the availability of resources and the overall development of the system.

The deployment of state of the art technology in An Garda Síochána is a continuous process and there are a number of projects currently under way or recently completed which will add further to Garda resources. For example, work has recently commenced on the development of a fixed charge processing system. From a Garda Síochána perspective, this system will facilitate the full implementation of the provisions of the Road Traffic Act, 2002, and facilitate the introduction of the penalty points systems in the Department of the Environment and Local Government.

In the area of communications systems, Government approval has been obtained for the replacement of the existing Garda radio network with a digital trunked radio system. In that context, a pilot project in currently under way in the Dublin area. The results of this pilot will be used in determining the overall approach to the introduction of a nationwide system.

Garda closed circuit television schemes, CCTV, as aids to policing, have been introduced in Dublin North Central, Dublin South Central, Tralee and Cork city. Subject to the availability of funds, 17 locations are also set to receive new Garda CCTV systems over the next two years. These locations are, (in alphabetical order), Athlone, Ballyfermot, Bray, Carlow, Castlebar, Clondalkin, Clonmel, Dundalk, Dún Laoghaire, Ennis, Finglas, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Sligo, Tallaght and Waterford.

An air support unit, including a fixed wing aircraft and helicopter equipped with the most modern technology, has been introduced. A second helicopter is also being provided and should become operational shortly. This will greatly expand the area of operations of the air support unit. A high speed patrol boat for use by the Garda water unit in policing inland waterways has also been purchased. The boat is equipped [1228] with sophisticated navigational, tactical and communications equipment.

It is not uncommon that consultants or overseas suppliers are deployed in the development or supply of systems and equipment. The availability of the requisite expertise and the outcome of the public procurement process are determining factors in this regard. In addition, the ever increasing co-operation of An Garda Síochána with police and other agencies overseas is a reflection of the growing international dimension of crime. For example, extradition and mutual assistance functions are used to investigate crimes such as fraud, money laundering and drugs. An Garda Síochána has a number of international liaison officers at Europol, Interpol and other locations throughout the European Union to maximise the assistance provided by overseas agencies. Co-operation with overseas agencies will continue to be an important feature in the investigation of crime and location of missing persons in the future.

Question No. 159 answered with Question No. 41.


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