Header Item Written Answers Nos. 329-344
 Header Item Garda Operations
 Header Item Garda Equipment
 Header Item Garda Inspectorate Reports
 Header Item Garda Reports
 Header Item Garda Oversight
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Crime Prevention
 Header Item Registration of Title
 Header Item Migrant Integration
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Deportation Orders
 Header Item Sexual Offences Data

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 871 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 329-344

Garda Operations

 329. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the Garda Síochána codes of conduct in place to guide Garda conduct when dealing with persons with disabilities; her views on having the official Garda Síochána code of conduct published in the spirit of transparency and the public interest; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10307/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the Garda Charter {http://www.garda.ie/Documents/User/charter.pdf} outlines the commitment of An Garda Síochána to ensure that the services of An Garda Síochána meet the needs of all people regardless of Gender, Marital status, Family status, Age, Religion, Disability, Sexual orientation or membership of the Traveller community.

  During training, Recruit Gardaí receive training in disability awareness as part of the programme for Policing Vulnerable Communities. This provides members with a skill set to identify where a member of the public will need additional assistance. The basics of the programme are -

  1. Take your time - We live in a very busy world. It is easy to feel stressed and under pressure to do things fast, especially at work. But often, trying to rush when dealing with a customer with a disability will actually make things worse.

  2. Be flexible - We’ve all experienced times when we’re trying to do something and have been frustrated by rigid attitudes. Maybe you have been frustrated by someone who has been unwilling to be flexible, even when it costs them nothing to do it.

  3. Don’t assume - Don’t assume that people with disabilities need lots of help. At the same time, we shouldn’t assume that your customers can all cope fine and don’t need any help.

  4. Just ask - It is better to ask and have people say that they don’t need any help than to fail to ask leaving someone needing help.

  The training programme has its basis in the NDA (National Disability Authority) course on Disability Awareness. The NDA provided assistance with the development of this.

  In each Garda Division Diversity Liaison Officers have been appointed who are available to assist any member of the Public that requests additional assistance. However, in the first instance it is the responsibility of all members of An Garda Síochána to respond to the Community needs.

Garda Equipment

 330. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the policies and procedures surrounding EvoFIT, the new Garda facial recognition software, particularly relating to the compilation of its database; her views on the compliance of Garda policy and procedure with data protection laws in general; if EvoFIT and policing policy in this regard have been specifically pre-checked for compliance with privacy and data protection laws; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10308/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald There seems to be an assumption in the Deputy's question that the EvoFIT system recently deployed by An Garda Síochána is a form of facial recognition software. This is not the case. I am informed by the Garda authorities that EvoFIT is in fact software which allows a member of the Garda Síochána to assemble a full electronic facial likeness based on the recollections of witnesses and victims using a store of images of individual facial features (e.g. noses, eyes, mouths, hairstyles etc.) held within the system. In effect, EvoFIT carries out the same function that police sketch artists would traditionally be used for. The system does not store or use personal information, nor is it used to store the composite images it helps to create. Accordingly, no data protection considerations arise.

Garda Inspectorate Reports

 331. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald her plans to discuss in Dáil Éireann the Garda inspectorate report into serious crime, dated November 2014; if she and the Garda Commissioner are both committed to implementing every one of the 200 recommendations therein; if she will provide a timeframe and an update on the progress that has been made on implementing each of those recommendations in tabular form, with a particular focus on the categorisation and compiling of crime statistics; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10309/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Garda Inspectorate Report on Crime Investigation forms an important component in the overall justice reform programme which is currently underway and in respect of which significant progress has already been made. Implementation of this programme, including the reforms recommended by the Inspectorate, is being overseen by the Cabinet Committee on Justice Reform, chaired by An Taoiseach. I expect that there will continue to be ample opportunity to discuss all aspects of this programme in this House.

  An Garda Síochána has already taken important steps to follow through on the Inspectorate’s recommendations with the establishment of an Implementation Steering Group to immediately focus on the implementation of the short, medium and long-term recommendations in the Report. I can also advise the Deputy that the new Garda Policing Plan for 2015 has been prepared with the benefit of the Inspectorate's analysis and insights.

  I am in ongoing contact with the Commissioner in relation to the wide range of issues arising from the Inspectorate report and expect to receive regular updates on progress, and that this information will be disseminated at appropriate intervals.   There will also of course be a central role for the new Police Authority in overseeing the implementation of the reforms identified by the Inspectorate.

  Insofar as the Deputy's specific query concerning progress in relation to the compilation of crime statistics is concerned, as the Deputy will appreciate, this is a matter in the first instance for the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency. The CSO is currently carrying out a detailed analysis of certain issues raised by the Inspectorate in relation to the recording, classification and reclassification of crime, to see whether and to what extent they may have implications for the crime statistics which that Office produces. I understand that substantial work has been carried out on this project since the report's publication, and that this work is ongoing.

  In addition, the CSO has also agreed to chair an expert panel to examine the Inspectorate's recommendations on crime statistics. The expert panel will review the crime counting and detection rules, as recommended by the Inspectorate, with a view to introducing new national standards. I am advised that the expert panel will commence its work in the coming weeks.

Garda Reports

 332. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald her plans to provide for discussion of the recent report of the Garda professional standards unit into the cancellation of fixed charge notices; her reason for not publishing a redacted version of the second report; her plans to introduce legislative changes on foot of the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10310/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As the Deputy will be aware, on 27 January, I published the Report of the Garda Professional Standards Unit Examination of the Procedures, Policy and Decision Making Processes in Relation to Cancellations on the Fixed Charge Processing System of Road Traffic Offences along with an Internal Audit Report which was forwarded to me by the Garda Commissioner. Following consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and in keeping with the Garda Commissioner's recommendation, a separate volume of the report was not published as it contains extensive personal information including information which may be the subject of further investigation. In light of this, the publication of a heavily redacted version of the report would not have been straightforward and would not have added to overall understanding of the issues concerned.

Insofar as the recommendations with respect to certain legislative and related cross-cutting aspects of the fixed charge processing system outlined in the report are concerned, I have referred these to the Criminal Justice (FCPS) Working Group for further examination. This group was set up to take forward the recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate on the FCPS and is jointly chaired by the Departments of Justice and Equality, and Transport, Tourism and Sport. The Deputy will appreciate that any legislative amendments to the Road Traffic Acts, are a matter, in the first instance, for my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

The Deputy will be aware that, at the time of publication of the report, both myself and the Garda Commissioner issued detailed statements in relation to its findings and recommendations. I expect there will continue to be opportunities to discuss all road safety matters in this House.

Garda Oversight

 333. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the terms of reference for those tasked with the independent review mechanism; the set of rules that apply to the practice and procedure of the mechanism; the full set of possible remedies that may arise once these reviews are concluded; if the reviews will be provided without redaction to the families and complainant; any appeal mechanism that applies from her decision; the reason she chose this method to properly investigate these claims; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10311/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald This Government, as part of its response to the report by Seán Guerin SC, took the initiative to have an independent review carried out of the allegations of Garda misconduct which had been submitted to my Department, to the Office of the Taoiseach and a number of other public representatives. This unprecedented decision was taken with a view to getting an objective and independent legal view on whether further action might be warranted in any case.

As the Deputy is aware, a panel consisting of two senior and five junior counsel was established for that purpose, all selected on the basis of their experience of the criminal justice system. The independent review is well underway and 316 cases have been referred to the Panel. The volume and complexity of cases has led to the review taking somewhat longer than originally anticipated, but it is important that counsel take the time necessary to consider each case fully and carefully. Counsel are making every effort to conclude their work as soon as is reasonably practicable.

  The review in each case consists of an examination of the papers by independent counsel, who then make a recommendation as to whether any further action might be taken. [I know that some Deputies have argued that the review should have involved interviews with the complainants and other relevant persons, but with respect I think that is to misunderstand this process.] The purpose of the review is to triage the allegations to see if further investigations are needed. To have required counsel to hold hearings where they would interview everyone concerned would in effect have been to hold full-scale investigations into over 300 cases, without having made any attempt to see if this was necessary or practical.

  The Panel is an independent body of counsel and the method of review is a matter for senior counsel who, in addition to examining individual complaints, are required to advise the Department generally on the management of the process, take a joint lead in allocating cases to junior counsel, and jointly oversee recommendations with a view to ensuring as far as possible a consistency of approach, except of course where a potential conflict of interest might arise. Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that if there is any conflict, or potential conflict, the conflicted counsel not only will not be involved in the particular complaint, but also will not be aware of which counsel is reviewing it. This is normal professional conduct and there are sufficient counsel on the Panel to ensure the practicality of this.  Whatever steps are necessary will be taken to ensure there is no conflict of interest.

  Counsel will not be making decisions, but rather makingrecommendations, and the question of appeals does not therefore arise. The recommendation in each case is a matter for counsel. Clearly, there are a number of possible options for further investigations, in particular by way of referral to GSOC, but any recommendation for referral of a case to a commission of investigation will be very carefully considered, including whether this could be achieved by way of amending the terms of reference of an existing commission or the establishment of a separate commission.   Where counsel do recommend further investigations, I will be very strongly guided by that advice.    However, I would also make the point that in many cases, counsel may recommend that no further action can reasonably be taken. This might be, for example, because a case has already been through due process even though the complainant remains unhappy with the outcome. The crucial point, however, is that every case will have been reviewed by independent counsel, who will have made an objective recommendation.

  Consideration is currently being finalised in relation to the format and content of replies to complainants, and the objective will be to ensure that each complainant receives as comprehensive an answer as possible.

Proposed Legislation

 334. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald her views on commissioning an independent report concerning prostitution and trafficking here; the impact of the proposed legislation to criminalise the purchaser in the sex trafficking industry; to make a comparison with other models in Sweden and elsewhere; the methods and resources An Garda Síochána will be expected to use in investigating and detecting offenders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10312/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald On 27 November, I published the General Scheme of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2014, which amongst other proposals, creates two new offences of purchasing, in the context of prostitution, sexual services. My primary concern, in introducing these provisions, is to vindicate the human rights of those trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Over 80% of women trafficked are the victims of sexual exploitation.

  These proposals were developed following an extensive consultation process, initiated by my Department in 2012, including a Discussion Document which presented an objective analysis of the approaches adopted in other jurisdictions to address prostitution. I would draw attention to a March 2014 Council of Europe Report entitled "Prostitution, trafficking and modern slavery in Europe". That Report reviews the approaches adopted in a number of countries and concludes that member states should consider "criminalising the purchase of sexual services, based on the Swedish model, as the most effective tool for preventing and combatting trafficking in human beings". In February 2014, the European Parliament adopted a resolution advocating this approach. The Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has also recommended criminalising the purchase of sexual services by means of prostitution.

  Independent statistics on crime, including prostitution and related offences, are collated and published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). In addition to the work of the CSO, the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) of my Department publishes annual reports setting out statistical information on alleged victims of human trafficking encountered by An Garda Síochána, International Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations working in the field. The information is disaggregated by gender, age, region of origin and type of exploitation. The Annual Reports also provides information on the criminal justice response to human trafficking in Ireland. The reports are available on Ireland's dedicated anti-human trafficking website www.blueblindfold.gov.ie and on my Department's website. The question of enhancing the knowledge base and data in relation to human trafficking in Ireland will be examined in the context of the 2nd National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Human Beings in Ireland which is currently being drafted.

  The purpose of the new offences is to send a clear message that the purchase of sexual services in the context of prostitution is unlawful and the evidence suggests that making an act unlawful does in itself influence behaviour. There will of course be some prosecutions and of course as with any covert activity, this can present challenges.   The Deputy however will appreciate that this is an operational policing matter and one which will properly be dealt with by the Garda authorities, in accordance with the provisions of the legislation. The trafficking of persons and the organisation of prostitution is a feature of organised criminality and the Garda Síochána is already strongly committed to the disruption of the organised crime networks behind this activity. This includes utilising a multi-agency approach to tackle those involved in organising this type of criminal activity including liaison with the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Department of Social Protection.

  The Gardaí also implement specific targeted operations as required and have been successful in obtaining convictions for organising prostitution, brothel keeping and associated offences. All relevant current legislation is utilised by members of An Garda Síochána to target and dismantle the criminal groups involved in this sort of criminality and I have no doubt that the Gardaí will also make effective use of the new provisions in the same context.

Garda Deployment

 335. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will assign additional resources to Tallaght Garda station, to allow for members of the Garda community unit at the station to complete the necessary training to facilitate them operating on bicycles; her views on the importance of this issue for communities which need to see gardaí in their locality; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10327/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda authorities and I will arrange for the information to be forwarded to the Deputy upon receipt.

Crime Prevention

 336. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will note the recommendations made at the annual general meeting of the Kilnamanagh,Tallaght, neighbourhood watch scheme in the presence of members of the Tallaght Garda community unit that a closed circuit television system be provided in the estate to combat crime; if she will discuss the matter with the Garda Commissioner; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10328/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald CCTV systems installed for the purposes of crime prevention and as aids to policing in areas to which the general public routinely have access, such as town centres, fall into two distinct categories: Garda CCTV systems and community-based CCTV systems.

Garda CCTV systems are planned and implemented on the basis of An Garda Síochána's identified operational needs and priorities. Accordingly, decisions in relation to the introduction or extension of such systems are a matter for the Garda Commissioner. I am advised by the Garda authorities that current Garda CCTV arrangements are kept under ongoing review in the context of An Garda Síochána's operational requirements. I am further informed that there are currently no plans to extend existing Garda CCTV systems.

As regards community-based CCTV, a scheme was launched in 2005 which provided financial assistance to qualifying local organisations towards meeting the capital costs associated with the establishment of a local community CCTV system. Two rounds of funding were advertised under that Scheme, most recently in 2007. All of the available funding provided under the previous two rounds was fully allocated. There are currently no plans to further extend the Scheme, but of course the issue will be kept under review in the context of the availability of funding and competing priorities.

Registration of Title

 337. Deputy Frank Feighan Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will review a land register transaction in light of delays in this transaction (details supplied). [10345/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I can inform the Deputy that under the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, the Property Registration Authority (PRA) was established as and from 4 November 2006. The PRA replaces the Registrar of Deeds and Titles as the registering authority in relation to property registration in Ireland and, subject to the above Act, is independent in the performance of its functions.

The Deputy will be aware of the service to T.D.s and Senators which provides information on the current status of applications, such as the subject of this question, which was introduced in May 2006. The service provides a speedier, more efficient and more cost effective alternative to submitting Parliamentary Questions. It is operated by the PRA and is available all year round.

I can further inform the Deputy that his query has been forwarded to the PRA for attention and direct reply via the above mentioned service.

Migrant Integration

 338. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald when the national integration strategy will be published and ready; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10378/15]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin): Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin The Programme for Government contains a commitment to promote policies which integrate minority ethnic groups in Ireland, and which promote social inclusion, equality, diversity and the participation of immigrants in the economic, social, political and cultural life of their communities. A significant level of activity is taking place in pursuit of this commitment.

The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration, an Office operating under the ambit of my Department, has a cross-Departmental mandate to develop, lead and co-ordinate migrant integration policy across other Government Departments, agencies and services. The Office is currently engaged in a review of the approach to the integration of migrants with a view to the preparation of a new updated overall Integration Strategy in keeping with the Government’s commitment to the integration of migrants. A Cross-Departmental Group on Integration was reconstituted in March, 2014 with a mandate to review the activities being undertaken by Government Departments and agencies directed to promoting the integration of migrants, preparing a Draft Integration Strategy taking account of the policies and actions already being implemented, and undertaking consultation with key stakeholders. A public consultation process was subsequently launched on 28 March 2014 as part of the review. Over eighty submissions were received from stakeholders, a large number of whom have now met with the Cross-Departmental Group on Integration. The Cross-Departmental Group has also held a number of thematic meetings focussing on key policy areas relevant to the integration of migrants, including education, access to public services and social inclusion, and the promotion of intercultural awareness and combatting racism. Work on the development of the updated Integration Strategy is ongoing with a view to the Strategy being published as soon as possible thereafter.

More generally it should be noted that the activities of a number of key Departments and agencies in the field of integration are already being taken forward on the basis of specific strategies to ensure that their services respond to Ireland’s changed demographic in an interculturally sensitive and inclusive manner. The strategies developed include: an Intercultural Health Strategy; an Intercultural Education Strategy; a Cultural and Arts Policy and Strategy; the Garda Síochána Diversity Strategy; and an Action Strategy for Integrated Workplaces. In addition, many local authorities have developed action plans, often with the assistance of funding provided by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration.

Garda Deployment

 339. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of gardaí who were working in the Dublin South West constituency, by station, in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. [10403/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of personnel, among the Garda Regions, Divisions, and Districts. Garda management keep this distribution under continuing review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of these resources. I have arranged to send detailed tables of the information which the Deputy has requested directly to him.

Deportation Orders

 340. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the progress to date in determining an application pursuant to the provisions of section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10421/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order made on 12 November 2008. The person concerned has been evading deportation since 2 December 2008, and as such , is liable to arrest and detention. The person concerned should, therefore, 'present' to the Garda National Immigration Bureau without delay.

Representations were received from the person's legal representative, pursuant to Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), to revoke the Deportation Order. The Deputy might wish to note that any such decision will be to 'affirm' or to 'revoke' the existing Deportation Order. In the mean-time, the Deportation Order remains valid and in place.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Sexual Offences Data

 341. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of breaches of Part 2 of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 for the years 2013 and 2014; the number of cases pending; the number of convictions, in each year concerned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10441/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have asked the CSO to forward relevant statistics directly to the Deputy.

  Questions Nos. 342 to 344, inclusive, answered with Question No. 312.


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