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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 110-130
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Site Acquisitions
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Physical Education Facilities
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Constitutional Amendments
 Header Item Policing Issues
 Header Item Prisoner Data
 Header Item Prison Education Service
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Garda Information and Communications Technology
 Header Item Garda Strength
 Header Item Organised Crime
 Header Item Garda Data
 Header Item Gender Equality
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Victim Support Services

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 973 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 80 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 110-130

Schools Building Projects Status

 110. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the position regarding progress on a new school building project for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42751/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy is aware, the school to which he refers is included in my Department’s 6 year Capital Programme. The acquisition of a suitable site is required to facilitate this project. My Department is engaging with the school Patron in this regard.

Schools Building Projects Status

 111. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh when the next phase of the school building for a school (details supplied) will commence; the status of this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42752/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The school to which the Deputy refers commenced construction on 3rd January 2018. Works are progressing well on site and subject to no issues arising it is envisaged that the school will be ready for occupation in the 4th quarter of 2019.

Schools Site Acquisitions

 112. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the status of the provision of a new site for a school (details supplied) as announced in November 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42753/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy is aware, a project to provide permanent accommodation for the school in question is included on my Department's Capital Programme.

Officials in my Department continue to liaise with officials in Fingal County Council under the Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the acquisition of a suitable site for this school. Discussions with relevant parties regarding the potential acquisition of a preferred site option are at an advanced stage and my Department is working to progress matters as expeditiously as possible.

Schools Building Projects Status

 113. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh his plans to ensure that the works to provide a new school building for a school (details supplied) in addition to the associated refurbishment works will commence as a matter of urgent priority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42754/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy is aware, a project for the school referred to is included in my Department's Capital Programme to primarily replace existing temporary accommodation with permanent accommodation.

The Project Brief is expected to be completed shortly, having regard to the complex technical assessment process involved in this case. In that regard, the Department will be in further contact with the school in relation to the next steps at the earliest opportunity.

Physical Education Facilities

 114. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the status of projects (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42758/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy may be aware, my Department is committed to a PE Hall build and modernisation programme, starting in the second half of the Project Ireland 2040 period, that will ensure that students in all post-primary schools have access to appropriate facilities to support P.E. provision, particularly in the context of the roll-out of P.E. as a leaving certificate subject.

Departmental Funding

 115. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the detail of State funding that is provided to religious organisations or persons here by his Department; the amount of funding provided for each of the years 2010 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43153/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh My Department does not categorise payments in a way which would allow us to identify whether bodies in receipt of funding are a religious organisation. Similarly it is not possible to identify whether individuals in receipt of a payment are associated with a religious organisation.

  If the Deputy wishes to provide a list of organisations of interest, information regarding their funding can be collated and provided.

Constitutional Amendments

 116. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if he has met the church leaders to discuss the upcoming blasphemy referendum. [41805/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Deputy will be aware that the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government has made an order appointing 26 October as the day on which polling shall take place in respect of the referendum to be held on the proposal contained in the Thirty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution (Repeal of offence of publication or utterance of blasphemous matter) Bill 2018. That proposal of course followed on from the recommendation contained in the Sixth Report of the Convention on the Constitution which reflected the deliberations of the Convention which took place in November 2013.

I can confirm that I have not had any meetings with church leaders in relation to the subject matter of the referendum.

Policing Issues

 117. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the extent to which policing methods here, including community policing, replicate best practice in other European countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42717/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Deputy will be appreciate that in accordance with section 26 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility to manage and control generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána and I as Minister have no direct function in those matters. In exercising this function, I understand that the Garda Commissioner continues to ensure that relevant policing developments in other jurisdictions are reviewed on an on-going basis so that international best practice can be identified and, where appropriate, applied throughout the Garda Síochána. In addition, I wish to assure the Deputy that when developing policy or legislative proposals on policing matters my Department would always have regard to international models.

I am advised by An Garda Síochána that it is the case that all Gardaí have a role to play in addressing community policing issues as and when the need arises. In that sense, community policing involves far more than a single unit within An Garda Síochána. Community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána. It provides a means of recognising that every community has its own concerns and expectations. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the Garda National Model of Community Policing plays a key part in responding to crime by taking into account and responding to local conditions and needs. Clear objectives are set, such as high visibility in the community, ease of contact by members of the public, and enhanced support for crime prevention strategies. The term community policing is used in many different ways. Community policing is not, of course, confined to dedicated Community Gardaí, all Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. In addition, the National Community Policing Office, attached to the Garda Community Relations Bureau, captures best practice in community policing initiatives and disseminates these practices through its communication network. I am advised that An Garda Siochána continue to evaluate and develop Community Policing to take account of the changes taking place within our communities and the need for a more responsive police service.

As the Deputy will be aware the Garda Síochána Act 2005 contains provisions, the purpose of which are to assist the Garda Síochána to operate to the best standards in line with the police services of other comparable jurisdictions. The Act provides for the establishment of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and section 117(1) of the Act requires the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to benchmark their recommendations by reference to the best standards of comparable police services. Arising from this requirement, every inspection conducted by the Garda Inspectorate, and any recommendation arising, has involved examining and taking account of policing practices in other jurisdictions.

The Deputy may also wish to note one of the functions of the Garda Professional Standards Unit, which was established under section 24 of the 2005 Act, is to promote the highest standards of practice, as measured by reference to the best standards of comparable police services, in operational, administrative and management matters relating to An Garda Síochána. Arising from these reviews, the Unit proposes measures to improve performance and promote the highest standards of practice throughout the Garda Síochána with reference to those of comparable police services. The Garda Commissioner, on an ongoing basis, draws on the Unit's proposals to enhance policing practices and policies.

As the Deputy will be aware the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland published its report on 18 September. The report contains a wide range of recommendations which comprehensively address all the themes set out in the Commission's terms of reference including in relation to Community Policing.

This is a major report on one of the key functions of the State and it is now receiving appropriate consideration. My Department is undertaking a detailed consultation process with the new Commissioner and other agencies as well as with other Government departments which are potentially impacted by the report's recommendations. As part of this process, I have asked the Garda Commissioner to respond to the recommendations in the report insofar as they directly concern An Garda Síochána. These recommendations include a particular emphasis on local policing as the core of the future model of policing.

I will return to Government to discuss my substantive response as well as a High Level Implementation Plan and proposed project structure before the end of the year.

Prisoner Data

 118. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the number of prison places available to the justice system here; the number of persons incarcerated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42718/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy is aware the Irish Prison Service collates and publishes the prisoner population breakdown on a daily basis and this information is available on the Irish Prison Service website www.irishprisons.ie. This breakdown includes the number of prisoners incarcerated in each prison, as well as the capacity per prison. The information can be found in the Information Centre – under Statistics & Information – Daily Prisoner Population.

Prison Education Service

 119. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the percentage of the number of prisoners who have had access to education or rehabilitative training in 2018 with particular reference to first time offenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42719/18]

 120. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if access to educational or rehabilitative training among the prison population is dominated by long-term recidivists or first time offenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42720/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I propose to take Questions Nos. 119 and 120 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service provides a wide range of rehabilitative programmes to those in custody that include education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These programmes can offer purposeful activity to those in custody while serving their sentences and encouraging them to lead law abiding lives on release. These programmes are available in all prisons and all prisoners are eligible to use the services, including first time offenders.

The matter in which records are collated does not allow us to provide statistics re the percentage of the number of prisoners that have had access to education or rehabilitative training in 2018 with particular reference to first time offenders.

Garda Deployment

 121. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the extent to which the various Garda stations throughout the country in both urban and rural areas can expect to benefit from new Garda recruits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42721/18]

 122. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the extent to which the various Garda stations in the various towns throughout County Kildare can expect to benefit from new Garda recruits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42722/18]

 131. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the criteria applicable to the deployment or redeployment of gardaí to the various divisions throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42731/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I propose to take Questions Nos. 121, 122 and 131 together.

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.

I am informed that the Cohort model of resource allocation has been in use by Garda management since 2015 and is currently the model utilised for the allocation of personnel within An Garda Síochána, including newly attested probationer Gardaí from the Garda College. The model is a dynamic distribution model and aims to impose a numerical/mathematical measure on the policing needs of each Division nationwide. The allocation and transfer of Garda Personnel, is determined by a number of factors, including crime and non-crime workload, population, area, policing arrangements, operational strategies and transfers applications, including welfare issues. When allocation of resources is under review, comprehensive consultation is carried out with local Garda management during which all relevant factors are taken into consideration. Where a deficiency in resources is identified the matter is considered fully and addressed accordingly.

In relation to the allocation of newly attested Gardaí, it has to be factored in that they have a further 16 months of practical and class-room based training to complete in order to receive their BA in Applied Policing. To ensure that they are properly supported and supervised and have opportunities to gain the breadth of policing experience required, the Commissioner's policy is to allocate them to specially designated training stations which have the required training and development structures and resources in place, including trained Garda tutors and access to a permanently appointed supervisory Sergeant who is thoroughly familiar with their responsibilities under the training programme.

Garda recruitment effectively ended in 2010 and did not resume till September 2014 when the Government reopened the Garda College in Templemore once the economy had stabilised. I am informed by the Commissioner that since then 2,200 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. I am pleased that the strength of An Garda Síochána will reach over 14,000 members by the end of 2018 for the first time in many years.

I strongly welcome the funding provided in Budget 2019 for the recruitment of up to 800 Garda recruits next year, along with necessary civilian Garda staff. This ongoing recruitment will provide the Commissioner with the resources both in terms of the increase in new Gardaí and the redeployment of Gardaí to frontline policing duties following civilianisation of their roles. The net benefit of this is the increased Garda visibility and a greater response to the policing needs of communities in every Garda Division including the Kildare Division.

The information in relation to the number of Gardaí assigned to each Garda Station in each Division and the number of new recruits allocated to each Garda Station is available on my Department’s website through the following links, as supplied by the Commissioner. www.justice.ie/en/JELR/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and_Station_2009_to_31_August_2018.xlsx/Files/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and_Station_2009_to_31_August_2018.xlsx.

www.justice.ie/en/JELR/008_Allocation_of_Probationer_Gardaí_by_Division_and_Station_2014_as_on_12_Sept_2018.xlsx.

Files/008_Allocation_of_Probationer_Gardaí_by_Division_and_Station_2014_as_on_12_Sept_2018.xlsx.

For more general information on Garda Facts and Figures please see the following link: www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures.

Garda Information and Communications Technology

 123. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if An Garda Síochána has adequate access to modern communications technology; the degree to which such technology is readily available on a daily basis to all branches of the force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42723/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for a Partnership Government recognises that Gardaí must have the modern technology and resources necessary to detect and investigate crimes, and to prevent loss and harm to citizens and their property on a 24/7 basis.

ICT is recognised as an essential tool for supporting the day-to-day operations of over 16,000 Garda staff, including Gardaí, civilian staff and reserves. I am informed by the Garda authorities that on an annual basis, approximately 13.5 million vehicle registrations are read by the Automated Number Plate Recognition System, 1.9 million records are exchanged electronically with the Court Services, 9.3 million PULSE searches are conducted, 19.5 million TETRA secure digital radio calls are made and 118,000 fingerprints are searched.

In terms of investment in Garda ICT, I can confirm to the Deputy that in support of Garda ICT needs and to enable delivery of reform, some €342 million is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021. Of that total, funding of around €65 million for ICT is provided for in Budget 2019.

The overall Garda budget in 2019 will be €1.76 billion. It is important to note that decisions in relation to the allocation and management of Garda equipment and resources, including ICT, are a matter for the Garda Commissioner.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a range of ICT equipment is generally available, as required, to operational members on a day to day basis in the terms queried by the Deputy, including desktop PCs and associated IT devices as well as TETRA digital radios. Official laptops and mobile phones may be issued to senior managers and a proportion of operational members depending on business need. Automated Number Plate Recognition technology is available in a number of Garda vehicles. ICT technology is also deployed in air support units and mobile command vehicles providing on site connectivity to Garda ICT systems and communications.

There are 565 operational Garda stations in the State, of which I am informed 489 are currently connected to the Garda network. Options are being explored to provide members attached to the remaining 76 stations not yet networked with local access to Garda ICT services. This includes an assessment of the availability or otherwise of local broadband services and/or the provision of mobile technology. It is important to note that any member attached to a currently unconnected Garda station can access PULSE at their local district station. Members attached to non-networked locations can also contact the Garda Information Services Centre (GISC) or an associated networked station if required.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a broad range of ICT projects are being progressed to support existing systems and develop them further, with the overall goal of supporting the ongoing business requirements of An Garda Síochána in all fields. I am further informed that a number of key ICT projects will be moving to implementation phase during 2019, including projects such as:

- the Rosters and Duty Management System, which will give supervisors better and faster information on the resources available to them;

- phased implementation of the Mobility project, which aims to provide secure mobile access to Garda systems; and

- roll-out on a pilot basis of the Investigations Management System, which will standardise, digitise and support the management of all investigations arising from a PULSE incident.

Finally and as the Deputy will be aware, the Commission on the Future of Policing published its report on 18 September of this year. The report contains a wide range of recommendations which comprehensively address all the themes set out in the Commission's terms of reference. As the Deputy will be aware, the need for digital innovation and information was highlighted by the Commission. This is a major report on one of the key functions of the State and it is now receiving appropriate consideration. My Department is undertaking a detailed consultation process with the new Commissioner and other agencies as well as with other Government departments which are potentially impacted by the report's recommendations. I will return to Government to discuss my substantive response as well as a High-level Implementation Plan and proposed project structure before the end of the year.

Garda Strength

 124. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the strength of An Garda Síochána to date; the anticipated strength at the end of 2018 based on the number of new recruits, retirements or resignations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42724/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who has responsibility to carry on and manage and control generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochana, including by arranging for the recruitment, training and appointment of its members and civilian staff.

The Deputy will be aware An Garda Síochána is currently undertaking a programme of accelerated recruitment, as part of the Government’s commitment to a strengthened service through the Five Year High Level Reform and Workforce Plan to achieve an overall workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021, including 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Garda Reserve Members and 4,000 civilians. The projected 4,000 civilians represents a medium-term target of 20% of the Garda full-time workforce comprised of civilians. This target will be achieved through a twin-track approach of firstly, a “civilian by default” policy to be adopted in relation to the filling of all new posts other than operational policing posts and for non-operational policing posts that become vacant and, secondly, the redeployment of Gardaí to policing roles where their skills can be used to best effect with the backfilling of these roles by suitably qualified civilians where necessary.

The most recent overall figure provided to me by the Commissioner indicates that the overall strength of An Garda Síochána was 13,739 as of 31 August 2018. Since the re-opening of Templemore College in September 2014, we have been rebuilding the Garda organisation and I am pleased that, since then, approximately 2,200 new Garda members have attested and been assigned to duties in communities throughout the country. With another attestation due to take place in November, taking account of projected departures, Garda numbers will increase to approximately 14,000 by the end of this year for the first time since 2011.

To support the Commissioner in this ongoing recruitment, I have secured funding in Budget 2019 which facilitates the recruitment of up to 800 more Gardaí next year. The Budget also provides for the necessary civilian Garda staff to fill critical skills gaps and enable the further redeployment of Gardaí to front line duties.

In addition to the vision of 15,000 Garda members by 2021, plans are also in place for 4,000 civilians and 2,000 Reserves. I am informed by the Commissioner that as of 31 August 2018 there were 2,330 civilians undertaking administrative and technical duties within An Garda Siochana. I am encouraged that the number of civilians working in An Garda Síochána continues to increase, albeit more slowly than anticipated. It is clear, however, that progress is being made with close to 300 new civilian staff posts sanctioned to fill critical skills gaps across the organisation. This will allow more Gardaí to focus on operational policing duties where their training and specialist expertise can be put to best use. Already approximately 150 Gardaí have been redeployed to operational policing duties and I expect these numbers to accelerate in the coming months and throughout 2019.

As the Deputy will also be aware the Commission on the Future of Policing published its report on 18 September. This innovative report sets out a number of recommendations across the policing sector and in particular on the work of An Garda Siochána, including the Garda Reserve. I note that the Report of the Commission for the Future of Policing in Ireland recommends the return of Gardaí to front line policing and the need for visible policing. My Department has consulted with the Garda Commissioner with regard the recommendations within the Report and I await his proposals including how he will increase the pace of civilianisation and the redeployment of Gardaí to mainstream policing duties.

Organised Crime

 125. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the degree to which An Garda Síochána has direct access to Interpol and Europol in connection with its efforts to combat internationally organised crime, including drug related crime; if the necessary resources are readily available in these circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42725/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy is aware, the manner in which the resources of the Garda Síochána are deployed, is solely a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team and I, as Minister, have no direct role in this regard. However, I can inform the Deputy that the Garda Síochána participate in joint and multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional investigations, within the European Union and world-wide. Successful investigations, prosecutions and disruptions of criminal activities have been and continue to be achieved through these parallel investigations. The Garda Síochána also participate in training through CEPOL, Interpol, Europol and actively encourage international police cooperation in the fight against organised crime. The Garda Síochána proactively participate in international seminars that assist in identifying emerging crime trends.

It is through the work of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and the dedicated Drug Units operating across the jurisdiction that the Garda Síochána target those involved in the illicit sale and supply of drugs. The specific strategies put in place by An Garda Síochána include the operation of targeted intelligence-led initiatives. The Divisional Drug Units liaise closely with the Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau, the Revenue Commissioners and the Defence Forces (Navy). The Garda Síochána also work in partnership with other Law Enforcement Agencies in the area of drugs including the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the National Crime Agency (UK), Europol, Interpol and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N).

The Deputy will be aware that the Government has dedicated very significant resources to support An Garda Síochána in tackling the activities of criminal gangs, including mobile criminal gangs, that seek to target our communities. Indeed, Budget '19 will see an increase in the Garda budget from €1.65 billion to €1.76 billion, an increase of €110 million.

Garda Data

 126. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the number of women throughout all ranks in An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42726/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the total number of women in all ranks of An Garda Síochána as of the 31 August 2018, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 3,677 or 27% of the total strength. This compares favourably with the number on 31 December 2008 which was approximately 3,100 or 22% of the total strength. While this is broadly in line with other police services in England and Wales, there is clearly plenty of scope for improvement.

  The Garda Authorities have assured me that a concerted effort is being made to encourage women to consider a career in An Garda Síochána so that the membership of An Garda Síochána will reflect the community that it serves.

  The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI) in the course of its work held semi-structured focus group discussions with female Garda members to explore the experiences of female Garda personnel regarding their careers, training and development and future prospects. Among the recommendations made in the CoFPI report is the reform of the current roster and greater flexibility of work practices which would enhance the attractiveness and job satisfaction of a career in An Garda Síochána.

  The Government noted this Report on publication and my Department is currently consulting widely on the issues raised including with the Garda Commissioner in advance of me returning to Government in December with my views on the recommendations and a High Level Implementation Plan.

  For the Deputy's information I have set out in tabular form the number of women by rank and as a percentage of the total by rank as of 31 August 2018.

Data from 31 August 2018

  Total Female Female as % of Total
Commissioner 1 (from 3rd Sept) 0 0%
Deputy Commissioner 1 (from 3rd Sept) 0 0%
Assistant Commissioner 9 2 22%
Chief Superintendent 46 7 15%
Superintendent 164 16 10%
Inspector 243 35 14%
Sergeant 1830 339 19%
Garda 11445 3278 29%
Total 13739 3677 27%

Gender Equality

 127. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan his plans for new gender equality measures throughout An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42727/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is statutorily responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána.

Having said that, I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Office in An Garda Síochána is in the process of developing a strategy to further embed and enhance the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion in An Garda Síochána. Drafting of the Strategy is at an advanced stage and it aims to recognise, acknowledge and respect diversity in Irish society, to attract, retain and develop a diverse workforce, and to provide opportunities for people to self-develop and promote their mental, physical, social health and sense of belonging.

I am further assured by the Garda Commissioner that he recognises the importance of recruiting into An Garda Síochána from a wide cross section of the population so that the organisation provides a policing service that reflects the growing diversity of Irish society. To support this a concerted effort is being made to encourage women and minority communities to consider a career in An Garda Síochána. Recent recruitment campaigns have made a significant effort through on-line videos and other media to attract candidates from minority communities and diverse social groups. In the most recent recruitment campaign a series of videos and text were produced in multiple languages including English, Irish, French, Spanish, Italian and Arabic. They were published on the Garda Facebook page which has more than 180,000 followers.

In relation to the proportion of women members in An Garda Síochána I am informed that the latest figures available indicate that women account for approximately 3,677 Garda members or 27% of the total strength. This compares favourably with the number on 31 December 2008 which was approximately 3,100 or 22% of the total strength. While this is broadly in line with other police services in England and Wales, there is clearly plenty of scope for improvement.

As the Deputy will be aware the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland published its report on 18 September. One of the Report’s key recommendations is that An Garda Síochána should reflect the diversity of Irish society, not only in gender and ethnicity, but also in terms of socio-economic, educational and geographical backgrounds. It also recommends that An Garda Síochána needs to develop recruitment strategies which reach a more diverse intake. The Government noted this Report on publication and my Department is currently consulting widely on the issues raised including with the Garda Commissioner in advance of me returning to Government in December with my views on the recommendations and a High Level Implementation Plan.

  Question No. 128 answered with Question No. 65.

Crime Data

 129. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the number of crimes committed in 2018 to date on a monthly basis by offenders while out on bail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42729/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As outlined in my response to the Deputy's Parliamentary Question No. 160 of 5 July 2018, a decision to grant bail in a particular case is a matter for the presiding Judge, who is, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of his or her judicial functions. There is also a Constitutional presumption in favour of the grant of bail as, under Irish Law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The Criminal Justice Act 2017 strengthens the operation of the bail system with the aim of making the law as effective as possible in protecting the public against crimes committed by persons on bail.

Under the Act, a Court, in considering an application for bail, is required to have regard to persistent serious offending by an applicant for bail and the nature and seriousness of any danger presented by the grant of bail to a person charged with an offence that carries a penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment or more. The Court will also have the power, in certain cases, to hear evidence from the victim of an offence before a decision on bail is taken.

Where an accused person is granted bail, the Act provides for stricter bail terms for repeat serious offenders, strengthens Garda powers to deal with breaches of bail, increases the use of curfews, and, where requested by Gardaí, allows for the introduction of electronic tagging for those on bail in certain circumstances.

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities on the information sought by the Deputy and I will contact him directly when the report is to hand.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

   I refer to parliamentary question No. 129 of 17 October 2018. The Deputy will recall in my response I undertook to contact him again once the information was to hand.

    As the Deputy will be aware, the Central Statistics (CSO), as the national statistical agency, is responsible for the compilation and publication of the official recorded crime statistics. The following table shows the number of crime incidents which are recorded as having at least one offender on bail for the years 2013-2017. The figures for 2018 are not available from the CSO at this time.

    It is worth noting that all statistics on recorded crimes are currently categorised as “Under Reservation”. The Central Statistics Office (CSO), in conjunction with An Garda Síochána continue to make good progress on returning the crime figures to the higher standard expected of our national crime statistics. I am determined that this body of work be completed as soon as possible and I welcome the continued diligence of the Policing Authority in monitoring this matter.

    The table shows the number of crime incidents which are recorded as having at least one offender on bail for the years 2013-2017. The figures for 2018 are not available from the CSO at this time.

         
No. of Crime Incidents which are Recorded as having at least one Offender on Bail for the years 2013 - 2017
Incident Type 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
01 Homicide Offences 7 10 8 4 5
02 Sexual Offences 20 26 28 24 30
03 Attempts/Threats to Murder, assaults, harassments and related offences 504 669 745 746 912
04 Dangerous or Negligent Acts 216 300 326 431 502
05 Kidnapping and Related Offences 7 6 16 8 13
06 Robbery, Extortion and Hijacking Offences 285 399 371 322 351
07 Burglary and Related Offences 1241 1674 1532 1331 1342
08 Theft and Related Offences 4116 5136 5636 6007 6907
09 Fraud, Deception and Related Offences 168 224 281 243 248
10 Controlled Drug Offences 1163 1822 1883 1987 2035
11 Weapons and Explosives Offences 337 438 463 436 463
12 Damage to Property and to the Environment 641 878 901 866 841
13 Public Order and other Social Code Offences 2841 3713 4558 4258 5180
15 Offences against Government, Justice Procedures and Organisation of Crime 4777 6629 8073 8823 9519




   I trust this information is of assistance.

Victim Support Services

 130. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the action he plans to take to ensure that victims in sexual assault cases are treated fairly throughout proceedings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42730/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Government is committed to ensuring that we have a robust system in place to deal with sexual offences which is sensitive to the needs of vulnerable victims. In this regard I have established a review of the protections for vulnerable witnesses in the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences, which is under way. The review will examine the adequacy of the mechanisms available in law and practice to protect and support victims of sexual violence through the judicial process. This will include considering practical supports for vulnerable witnesses through the reporting, investigation and trial processes; provision of additional legal supports to witnesses during the court processes and measures in place to protect vulnerable witnesses during evidence, including the use of measures such as pre-recorded evidence or video-link. Any considerations of this nature would, of course, need to take into account the rights of an accused person and the balance of justice.

I have asked Mr. Tom O’ Malley BL., Senior Lecturer in Law at NUI Galway and member of the Law Reform Commission, to chair the review. I am very grateful to Mr O’Malley for agreeing to take on this role and he will bring a wealth of expertise to this issue. The review will form part of the work programme of the Criminal Justice Strategic Committee and the review working group includes representatives of my Department, the Garda Síochána, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Probation Service and the Courts Service.

I have asked that the report of the review be made to me by the end of the year or as soon as possible thereafter. The views and experiences of stakeholders will be considered as part of this review and I myself met with a number of victim support organisations earlier this year to understand where they feel improvements can be made. I am committed to taking on board any recommendations arising from the review.


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