Header Item Written Answers Nos. 38-60
 Header Item Garda Resources
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Closed-Circuit Television Systems Provision
 Header Item Closed-Circuit Television Systems
 Header Item Departmental Correspondence
 Header Item Garda Overtime
 Header Item Road Traffic Offences
 Header Item Prison Service
 Header Item Restorative Justice
 Header Item Tribunals of Inquiry
 Header Item Garda Strength
 Header Item Departmental Reviews

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Unrevised

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Written Answers Nos. 38-60

  Questions Nos. 38 to 48, inclusive, answered orally.

Garda Resources

 49. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the extra investment being made in Garda resources in the Cavan-Monaghan Garda division in 2018. [51704/17]

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 is responsible for the distribution of resources 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.

Indeed, some €1.65 billion has been allocated to the Garda Vote for 2018. This is an increase of approximately 2% over the allocation for 2017 and includes almost €100 million for Garda overtime. Some €1.61 billion was allocated to the Garda Vote for 2017 and €1.55 billion in 2016.

I am informed by the Commissioner that on 31 October 2017, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the strength of the Cavan/Monaghan Division was 324 members. There are also 11 Garda Reserves and 37 civilians attached to the Division. When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Armed Response Unit, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

I am further informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, close to 1,400 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, 44 of whom have been assigned to the Cavan/Monaghan Division. In addition, another 200 trainee Garda are scheduled to attest next month which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end - an increase of 500 since the end of 2016.  

This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. The substantial increase in Garda numbers is tangible progress on achieving this Government’s vision of an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians.

I am pleased to say that Budget 2018 will support the continuation of this high level of investment in the Garda workforce and ensure that the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. A further 800 new Garda Recruits will enter the Garda College, an additional 500 civilians will also be recruited to fill critical skills gaps across the organisation and to facilitate the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and technical duties to front-line operational duties. There are plans to strengthen the Garda Reserve with new Reserves expected to commence training early in 2018.

This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána. We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Garda Division, including the Cavan/Monaghan Division, in the coming years.

The Deputy will, of course, be aware of the recommendation to reopen the former Garda station in Bawnboy, in addition to 5 other former stations, that is contained in the Garda Commissioner’s final report on the station reopening pilot project. I am informed that the Commissioner has written to the Office of Public Works to progress the matter.

The Deputy will also be aware that there are plans to build a new Garda station in Bailieboro and I understand that the Office of Public Works has now progressed the acquisition of the site in question and is proceeding to the planning stage of the project.

Garda Deployment

 50. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the number of gardaí assigned to dedicated drugs units in each division; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51701/17]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I should say at the outset that the distribution of Gardaí is exclusively the statutory responsibility of the Garda Commissioner.

  Notwithstanding the Commissioner’s responsibility for the distribution of Garda personnel, I have provided for the record the detailed information requested by Deputy in tabular form in relation to the number of Gardaí allocated to the Divisional Drug Units. I am informed that the total number of Divisional Drug Unit personnel was 238 as of 31 October 2017, the latest date for which information is readily available.

  As the Deputy will be aware all Gardaí have a responsibility in the prevention and detection of criminal activity whether it be in the area of drug offences crime or otherwise. I can assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána continues to pro-actively and resolutely tackle all forms of drug crime in this jurisdiction.

  In line with the Policing Plan, An Garda Síochána's National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, which was established in 2015, continues to lead out the policing strategy for tackling drugs by demand reduction and supply reduction strategies. In this regard the Bureau continues its policy of working with Garda Divisional Drug Units nationwide in tackling supply reduction at local level.

  This work is further supported by other national units, including the Criminal Assets Bureau, in targeting persons involved in the illicit sale and supply of drugs. This approach allows for the co-ordinated use of Garda resources in tackling all forms of organised crime, including illicit drug activity nationwide. Multi-disciplinary approaches are also utilised to ensure that those involved in illicit activity are effectively targeted including through the use of the proceeds of crime legislation, money laundering legislation and the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau. I am informed that this approach adopts good practice in implementing a co-ordinated use of Garda resources and in utilising available criminal law to its fullest extent in tackling all forms of organised crime, including drug trafficking.

  We have also seen unprecedented international cooperation between An Garda Síochána and policing services in other jurisdictions leading to important arrests and drug seizures.

  Underpinning all these measures is this Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. I am informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, close to 1,400 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, I look forward to attending the attestation of another 200 trainee Garda on Friday which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end - an increase of 500 since the end of 2016.

  This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána. We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources he needs to allow him to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across the organisation including the Divisional Drugs Units.

Drugs Unit Personnel at 31/10/2017 
Division Total
D.M.R.S.C.9
D.M.R.N.C15
D.M.R.N.18
D.M.R.E. 11
D.M.R.S. 18
D.M.R.W.18
Waterford6
Wexford5
Kilkenny/Carlow6
Tipperary11
Cork City13
Cork North6
Cork West5
Kerry10
Limerick13
Donegal4
Cavan/Monaghan6
Sligo/Leitrim6
Louth 5
Clare5
Mayo 6
Galway9
Roscommon/Longford4
Westmeath6
Meath5
Kildare9
Laois/Offaly5
Wicklow4
Total238

Closed-Circuit Television Systems Provision

 51. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if he has given consideration to ring-fencing unspent funding from community CCTV to establishing Garda CCTV cameras on the bridge in Portumna, Banagher bridge and Shannon bridge and Ballina, County Tipperary, in view of the fact that these bridges are a route for organised crime (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51682/17]

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 commits to supporting investment in CCTV systems and, in this context, my Department launched the Community-based CCTV Grant-aid Scheme in April 2017, as the vehicle to assist community groups in the establishment of CCTV systems in their local areas.

Under the Scheme, eligible community groups can apply for grant-aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a proposed CCTV system, up to a maximum grant of €40,000. Upon approval of the grant, the applicant will receive an up-front payment of 50% of the grant with the balance to be paid when the system is fully operational. Some €1 million was secured in Budget 2017 for the purposes of the Scheme and a similar amount will be made available in 2018 and 2019.

Unfortunately, the number of applications received to date is well below expectations. In relation to the specific locations referred to by the Deputy, I will be happy to consider any applications made in respect of them.

Full details of the Scheme, including guidelines, application forms, code of practice and other relevant documentation are available to download from my Department's website - www.justice.ie.

Guidance is available to help local groups to apply for this important funding and I am keen to ensure that groups take full advantage of the availability of this funding.

I am very conscious of the value that communities, especially rural communities, place on CCTV as a means of deterring crime and assisting in the detection of offenders.

The Garda authorities inform me that there are Garda CCTV schemes in operation in some 27 towns throughout the State comprising of approx. 523 cameras. There are also some 45 Community-based CCTV schemes, established under the previous grant-aid scheme funded by my Department between 2005 and 2013, in operation encompassing some 367 cameras to which An Garda Síochána have access.

Under the Commissioner's Modernisation and Renewal Programme, the intention is to use CCTV in new ways utilising modern technology and to expand the use of ANPR technology to allow for wider access and analysis, to identify key criminal and terrorist targets and to enhance community safety.

I would also mention in the context of supporting local communities that I recently announced that an additional €100,000 was being made available to Text Alert Groups, registered with An Garda Síochána, to provide modest financial assistance with the running costs they incur each year. This Text Alert Rebate Scheme will be administered by Muintir na Tíre and Groups wishing to participate in the Scheme can find more details at www.muintir.ie. Gardaí continue to pursue a range of measures to support elderly and more vulnerable people in the community, working closely with Community Alert, Neighbourhood Watch and other community groups.

Closed-Circuit Television Systems

 52. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan his views on the effectiveness of the community CCTV scheme in view of the fact that to date there have only been six applications under the scheme, none of which have been successful; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51695/17]

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 commits to supporting investment in CCTV systems and, in this context, my Department launched the Community-based CCTV Grant-aid Scheme in April 2017, as the vehicle to assist community groups in the establishment of CCTV systems in their local areas.

Under the Scheme, eligible community groups can apply for grant-aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a proposed CCTV system, up to a maximum grant of €40,000. Upon approval of the grant, the applicant will receive an up-front payment of 50% of the grant with the balance to be paid when the system is fully operational.

It is unfortunately the case that the number of applications received to date is well below expectations. To date, 6 applications have been received, in addition to a significant number of enquiries about the Scheme. As these applications were incomplete, they were returned to the applicants concerned to enable them to provide the information necessary to qualify for grant-aid. I expect however that at least some of these applications will be resubmitted and be successful.

Full details of the Scheme, including guidelines, application forms, code of practice and other relevant documentation are available to download from my Department's website - www.justice.ie.

Guidance is available to help local groups to apply for this important funding and I am keen to ensure that groups take full advantage of the availability of this funding.

I am very conscious of the value that communities, especially rural communities, place on CCTV as a means of deterring crime and assisting in the detection of offenders. I will say that these schemes are important and that they do help in crime reduction. I am satisfied that the grant-aid Scheme is worthwhile and I believe that it is worth making the funding available to communities in 2018 and 2019.

I am aware that the Data Protection Commissioner is responding to queries about the status of community CCTV schemes and I understand that the matter will be examined as part of a periodic scheduled engagement with An Garda Síochána. I can inform the Deputy that my officials consulted with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, the Office of the Attorney General, An Garda Síochána, Pobal and the Local Government Management Association (who liaised with the County and City Management Association), in relation to the Scheme.

I am aware that there has been some criticism of the scheme as being too 'bureaucratic' and my Department has been working with the various interested parties at local and community level to address any concerns in this regard. My Department continues to receive a constant flow of enquiries about the Scheme and I would encourage interested groups to avail of it.

It is worth pointing out that the Scheme, including the data protection requirements, is modelled closely on the previous grant-aid Scheme operated by Pobal on behalf of my Department between 2005 and 2013 under which some 45 Community-based CCTV systems were established operating in a mix of urban and rural environments.

If the Deputy is aware of any Groups that wish to avail of the Scheme but have not done so to date, I would ask him to let me know and I will ensure that they are given whatever support they require in order to make an application. In this context, my officials recently met with Irish Rural Link as well as some community representatives in relation to the Scheme. This level of engagement is encouraging.

I would also mention in the context of supporting local communities that I recently announced that an additional €100,000 was being made available to Text Alert Groups, registered with An Garda Síochána, to provide modest financial assistance with the running costs they incur each year. This Text Alert Rebate Scheme will be administered by Muintir na Tíre and Groups wishing to participate in the Scheme can find more details at www.muintir.ie. Gardaí continue to pursue a range of measures to support elderly and more vulnerable people in the community, working closely with Community Alert, Neighbourhood Watch and other community groups.

Departmental Correspondence

 53. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if he has received correspondence from the legal team of a Garda whistleblower in the Athlone district; if his Department has engaged with the legal team; his plans to raise the issues with the acting Garda Commissioner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51746/17]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy knows, the Protected Disclosures Act was enacted in 2014 to introduce specific protections for whistleblowers.  The core provisions in the Act provide for protection from dismissal and other forms of penalisation for the making of a protected disclosure, and for the protection of the identity of persons making disclosures.  I am not, therefore, going to discuss the details of any correspondence which I or my Department may have received on behalf of any member of the Garda Síochána alleging Garda wrongdoing.  I am sure that the Deputy appreciates that the protection of whistleblowers rightly prioritises the confidentiality of the process, which is central to the efficacy of that process.

However, with that qualification, I can state that I have received correspondence of the kind mentioned in the Deputy's question from the legal representatives of a member of the Gardaí.

My Department has had regular correspondence with the legal representatives concerned, in which it has set out the position regarding the issues raised.  In those responses it has been explained that there are certain matters which they have raised that are matters for which I have no responsibility.  I have to emphasise this point: I, as Minister, have no authority to direct the Garda Commissioner in matters concerning the control, operation and direction of An Garda Síochána.  Nor can I interfere in any investigation undertaken, on being undertaken, by An Garda Síochána.  Similarly, certain workplace issues which have also been raised in the correspondence are not matters in which I have authority to act.  Again, these are matters for the Garda Commissioner.

This may be difficult for the Deputy to accept but he and others in this House would be quick to point out the flaws in any system which would allow any Minister for Justice to interfere with the role of the Garda Commissioner or to seek to direct the Garda Commissioner how to handle workplace issues or investigations. 

While there are matters raised in the correspondence that I cannot involve myself in, I have asked the Garda Commissioner for an up-to-date report.  I am aware of the actions taken by my predecessors in this and other such cases. This has included using powers under the Garda Síochána Act to refer matters to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). As the Deputy is aware GSOC is a statutory independent body and it is not open to me to intervene in, or comment on, their investigations.

I can say that my predecessor gave an undertaking that should the investigations not address all matters of concern, the establishment of an Inquiry would be examined to address the substance of the allegations. That remains the position.

I am of course anxious that any allegations of wrongdoing by members of An Garda Síochána are properly and independently examined.  I can assure the Deputy that I am committed to ensuring that persons making disclosures will be supported and protected in the workplace.

There has been significant change in the procedures for members of the Gardaí who wish to report allegations of wrongdoing. In addition to the introduction of the Protected Disclosures Act, the Garda Síochána has been working with Transparency International Ireland and other external providers to improve their procedures.

All of this points to significant changes in the regime for making protected disclosures by members of the Gardaí and the significant protections afforded to those who make protected disclosures. It may be the case that further reforms are necessary to strengthen these protections. In that regard, I understand that a review is underway of the Protected Disclosures Act which may offer the opportunity to consider this issue.

Finally, I want to remind the House of the Public Notice issued last week by the Disclosures Tribunal.  Term of reference [p] relates to complaints by members of the Gardaí who had made a protected disclosure prior to 16 February 2017 and who were, as a result, targeted or discredited with the knowledge or acquiescence of senior members of the Garda Síochána.  The public notice called on any Garda who has made such a protected disclosure, who has not already done so, to provide a statement to the Tribunal by 18 December.   I would urge anyone to whom this applies to accept the Tribunal’s invitation and provide the said statement.

Garda Overtime

 54. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the reason for the decision to cancel Garda overtime in the Dublin metropolitan region for the remainder of 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51693/17]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan At the outset, can I say that the allocation and management of the overtime budget is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner having due regard to the available resources and his operational needs.

In this context, I would inform the House that I presented a supplementary estimate to the Select Committee last Thursday which provides for additional expenditure of some €58.1 million in gross terms for the Garda Vote, including an additional €50.489 million for the pay subhead of which over €42 million is for overtime.

This will bring the overtime budget for 2017 to over €130 million. By any standards, this is a significant sum, particularly when compared to the spend in previous years - €91 million in 2016, €56 million in 2015 and some €37.7 million in 2014.

Further, Budget 2018 provides for just under €100 million in overtime next year.

I am sure that the Deputy will agree that it is incumbent on Garda management to manage these substantial sums effectively for each financial year and I am satisfied that Garda management is acutely aware of the need to utilise the resources being made available to them in the most efficient and effective manner to ensure high visibility policing in our communities. This entails proper budgetary planning to ensure that the overtime requirements for any given year can be met in a managed and coherent way from the available resources. This House votes the resources available to the Commissioner of the day. It is his or her job as Commissioner and as Accounting Officer for the Garda Vote to manage those resources prudently.

I am informed by the Commissioner that all Assistant Commissioners and Executive Directors were requested to ensure that the usage of overtime for the roster ending on 3 December did not exceed the annual budget of €131 million which includes a Supplementary Estimate of €42.5 million.

I am further informed that there was no question of all overtime in the Dublin Metropolitan Region being cancelled for the remainder of 2017 as suggested by the Deputy.

It is important to note that overtime worked in December actually falls due to be paid from the 2018 budget and, as I have indicated, just under €100 million has been made available for overtime in 2018.

I have also been assured by the Commissioner that any misunderstanding that arose internally in relation to the availability of necessary overtime in the period leading up to Christmas has been clarified by the relevant Assistant Commissioner.

It is also important to note that overtime cannot be taken in isolation to the other resources available to An Garda Síochána.

For example, a further 800 Gardai will have been recruited by the end of this year and Budget 2018 also provides for this level of continuing recruitment. Provision has also been made for significant civilian recruitment which will allow for the redeployment of Gardaí from behind desks to the front-line to do what they have been trained and are being paid to do.

Indeed, some €1.65 billion has been allocated to the Garda Vote for 2018. This is an increase of approximately 2% over the allocation for 2017 and includes, as I have stated, almost €100 million for Garda overtime. Some €1.61 billion was allocated to the Garda Vote for 2017 and €1.55 billion in 2016.

This demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.

I am sure that the Deputy will agree that Garda management must continue to deliver on the extensive Garda Reform Programme that is currently underway and extract maximum benefit from the opportunities presented by that Programme, which is supported by unprecedented levels of public funding.

The Programme is being facilitated by the Government’s vision of an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians.

In particular, the increase in civilians will provide extensive opportunities to An Garda Síochána to redeploy significant numbers of Gardaí from administrative duties to front-line duties thereby reducing the need for overtime proportionately.

Further benefits will accrue from the proposed increase in the Garda Reserve.

I would like to stress that, while this Government has not been found wanting in providing resources to An Garda Síochána, it remains incumbent on Garda management to manage effectively and efficiently the significant resources being made available to them.

My Department will, of course, be keeping all aspects of the Garda Budget under close review in conjunction with Garda Management during the course of 2018.

Road Traffic Offences

 55. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if he will report on anti-social and careless driving instances, including so-called "boy racing" and "joy-riding" around the country; if he will report on the measures taken by An Garda Síochána to combat this behaviour, in particular organised gatherings for anti social driving events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51499/17]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I would like to thank the Deputy for raising this important issue.  I am deeply conscious of the serious issue of road safety and of the traumatic impact of road traffic collisions on those directly affected and their families.  I am also mindful of the impact of dangerous driving, including anti-social driving, more generally on the quality of life of residents in local communities across the country.

The Deputy will appreciate that I have no direct role in the enforcement of road traffic legislation, which is an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner. I am informed that road traffic legislation is enforced as part of the day-to-day duties of members of An Garda Síochána, as well as through a programme of high visibility road safety and enforcement operations, carried out in partnership with other state agencies. Garda operations specifically target road use behaviour known to contribute significantly to collisions, including dangerous and anti-social driving. 

I am further informed, that, in addition to responding to all reports of anti-social and careless driving, An Garda Síochána conducts operations on an ongoing basis to target the anti-social activities of young drivers. In order to combat this behaviour, intelligence is gathered at local level and areas are targeted as appropriate. An Garda Síochána also works closely with local authorities with a view to reducing such incidents and opportunities for joy-riding, anti-social behaviour and public disorder.

In addition to responding to individual anti-social/joy-riding incidents, local Garda management, including Superintendents with regional responsibility for roads policing, have developed specific and dedicated policing initiatives to target such behaviour, including MIT and rolling road checkpoints, whereby breaches of the Road Traffic Acts and transport regulations are detected; Fixed Charge Notices; criminal proceedings; or inclusion in the Juvenile Diversion Programme. An Garda Síochána also gathers intelligence through routine policing patrols, community policing units and through the Divisional Criminal Intelligence Officer. 

An Garda Síochána’s National Roads Policing Operations Plan, puts plans, initiatives and operations in place, at national, regional, divisional and district level to protect the public from serious harm and ensure safety on our roads.  This is done through a concentrated programme of high-visibility road safety and enforcement operations in partnership with other State agencies, including the Road Safety Authority, in order to meet the commitments contained in the Government's Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020, including the central objective of reducing road deaths to no greater than 25 fatalities per million of population by end 2020. This equates to an average of 10.3 road deaths per month and 124 per year by end 2020.

Progress in relation to the actions and outcomes set out in the Strategy are monitored on an ongoing basis by the Road Safety Authority and the other agencies involved, and overseen by a Ministerial Committee on Road Safety. The Committee is chaired by my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, and I attend Committee meetings, along with the Attorney General, CEO of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), the Garda Commissioner (or a senior representative) and officials from other relevant bodies. The Committee provides a forum for high-level discussion of road safety issues and will meet for the sixth time this year on 11 December 2017.  

Underpinning road traffic enforcement measures is An Garda Síochána’s Modernisation and Renewal Programme (2016-2021), which sets out key strategic objectives for Road Policing and informs and guides An Garda Síochána's annual Road Policing plans to 2021. Under the Programme, the Garda Commissioner will undertake a number of road safety traffic enforcement initiatives, including expanding the use of technology and increasing checkpoints.

The Programme for Government underlines the need for close engagement between An Garda Síochána and local communities as part of the strong community policing ethos which has long been central to policing in this jurisdiction. Local policing measures to address the type of issues referred to by the Deputy will undoubtedly benefit from the resources now coming on stream through the Garda recruitment programme. The Government has commitment to increase Garda numbers to 15,000 so that the Commissioner has the capacity to address the needs of communities throughout the country and into the future. 

I might add that, at the Policing Authority's most recent public meeting on 23 November, the Garda authorities reaffirmed their commitment to increase the overall strength of Roads Policing Units by 10% prior to the end of 2017 and announced that a further 10% increase is planned during the course of 2018. It is proposed to continue to increase the overall strength of Roads Policing Units each subsequent year until full operational strength is restored.

Road safety is a shared responsibility; one which, as you are aware, the Government takes very seriously.  Anyone affected by, or with information about, the matters referred to should, of course, contact their local Garda station. Alternatively, information can be provided to An Garda Síochána by way of the Garda confidential line, 1800 666 111, which is a monitored freephone line that allows members of the public to contact An Garda Síochána with information of a confidential nature. Alternatively, members of the public can call Crimestoppers on 1800 25 00 25 to report such matters.

Prison Service

 56. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the reason that services available to prisoners who have served their sentence and have been released are not made available to prisoners who have been exonerated; his plans to address this imbalance; the number of exonerated persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51617/17]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I can inform the Deputy that there is no statutory basis to provide specific services to persons who have been held on bail but are subsequently released following an acquittal or other wise not convicted beyond that which would be provided to other prisoners, whether on remand, on bail, or upon release.

Part 6 of the Prison Rules 2007 provides for the services which the Irish Prison Service must endeavour to provide for prisoners not serving a sentence. These include accommodation, structured activities and healthcare requirements while in custody. There are also separate provisions under the Prison Rules for unconvicted prisoners in relation to telephone calls, letters and visits.

Because of the unpredictable nature of the time in custody it is not possible to provide pre-release programmes or reintegration programmes to remand prisoners who do not receive a conviction. Remand prisoners can be released by the court at any time. They can also receive bail or have the warrant holding them quashed for any number of reasons. In additional, prisoners can be brought to court and have their case deferred to a later date, resulting in the prisoner being remanded again. This process can occur on multiple occasions in relation to the same case.

For these reasons it is impossible to plan when a remand prisoner may be released, accordingly it is not possible to provide a structured release programme to this cohort of prisoners.

In 2016 there were 2,976 committals on remand or trial warrants. This related to a total of 2,568 persons who did not receive a conviction.

Restorative Justice

 57. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if the system of restorative justice which was piloted in areas of the State has been considered for expansion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51702/17]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Probation Service plays a key role in the delivery of restorative justice as part of its overall mission of reducing reoffending and further victimisation in our communities.  Referrals for restorative justice interventions are provided post-conviction, within the parameters of assessment and court orders, including community and prison based actions.

  The Probation Service, through my Department, allocates funding to a range of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to support its work and mission.  In particular two Community Based Organisations receive funding to deliver restorative justice programmes and interventions for adult offenders. These are “Restorative Justice Services”, which is based in Tallaght, and “Restorative Justice in the Community”, which is based in Nenagh.  Both provide two models of restorative justice – the offender reparation panel and victim offender mediation services.

  In addition, bespoke restorative justice interventions are also available from Probation Officers on a national basis, in particular where a Court has requested an assessment for restorative justice engagement. The Probation Service staff receive accredited training on restorative justice practice and these interventions are bespoke in that they may include direct victim offender mediation, shuttle mediation, acts of community reparation or victim awareness work with the offenders.

  The Probation Service Restorative Justice Strategy, published in November 2013, entitled “Repairing the Harm: A Victim Sensitive Response to Offending”, provides a framework for informed, effective and integrated restorative justice practice. The Strategy builds on previous work in this area and focuses on the further development of evidence informed interventions, which engage victims, offenders and the community in addressing the consequences of crime.

  An Implementation Plan for this Strategy was put in place by the Probation Service in 2014. It sets out the goals and related actions for four distinct restorative justice models, which complement and support court ordered sanctions. These models include Victim Offender Mediation, Family Group Conferencing, Reparation panels and Support Circles.

  The Deputy may be aware that extending the use of restorative justice programmes is also a recommendation of the Penal Policy Review Group, whose report was submitted to Government by the then Minister for Justice & Equality in November 2014. An Implementation Group is currently overseeing the implementation of these recommendations. Its fourth report (May 2017), is available on my Department’s website at the following link:

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Strategic%20Review%20of%20Penal%20Policy%20Accessible.pdf/Files/Strategic%20Review%20of%20Penal%20Policy%20Accessible.pdf.

  In addition, Section 26 of the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017 gives effect to the restorative justice provisions contained in the 2012 European Directive on establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime. It outlines very clearly the measures to be taken to ensure that victims who choose to participate in a restorative justice scheme have access to safe and competent services.

Tribunals of Inquiry

 58. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the way in which he is satisfied that the Charleton tribunal will receive all the documents, memos, emails, letters and other communications relevant to its work (details supplied) in view of recent revelations that his Department withheld certain documents from the tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51750/17]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Discovery orders were issued by the Tribunal to my Department in February, April and September. These orders were fully complied with and the relevant documents were forwarded to the Tribunal in February, May and September 2017.

For the benefit of the House I can say that the discovery orders concerned records of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, documents related to two cases which had been considered by the Independent Review Mechanism, a copy of a representation to the then Minister which referenced Sgt McCabe, a report of a GSOC investigation into a complaint that a Garda investigation of an alleged serious assault was not properly carried out and records related to the allegation of contacts between the Gardaí and TUSLA in relation to Garda Keith Harrison.

The Department has also made extensive voluntary disclosure of other matters including three protected disclosures, reports from the Garda Commissioner under section 41 of the Garda Síochána Act and, most recently, the two email threads that were uncovered following a trawl of documents in the Department. In acknowledging receipt of the emails, the Tribunal made reference to my Department's already extensive discovery which has allowed the Tribunal to place the current documents in context.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Taoiseach has announced that there will be an external examination of the way in which my Department fulfilled its obligations in relation to discovering documents to the Tribunal, to conclude before Christmas. That is a step I welcome.

I can assure the Deputy that any further Discovery Orders to be made by the Tribunal will also be complied with in full and the Tribunal has been assured of my full and ongoing support in that regard.

Garda Strength

 59. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the number of gardaí in each Garda station in County Tipperary as of 1 November 2017; the number of community gardaí in the division; and the number of Garda Reserve and new recruits assigned to the division since recruitment resumed in 2014. [51670/17]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I should say at the outset that the distribution of Garda personnel is exclusively the statutory responsibility of the Garda Commissioner.

  Notwithstanding the Commissioner's responsibility for the distribution of Gardaí, I have provided for the record a breakdown, in tabular form, of the detailed information requested by the Deputy as of 31 October 2017, the latest date for which information is available.

  The Garda strength of the Tipperary  Division on 31 October 2017 was 376 of whom 70 are Community Gardaí. There are also 18 Garda Reserves and 40 Garda civilian staff attached to the Division. When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Armed Support Units, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

  As the Deputy will be aware,  this Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime.  To achieve this the Government has put in place a plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. We are making real, tangible progress on achieving this goal.

  I am informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, close to 1,400 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, 35 of whom have been assigned to the Tipperary Division.  I look forward to attending the graduation of another 200 trainee Garda on Friday which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end - a net increase of 500 since the end of 2016.

  I am also pleased that Budget 2018 maintains this high level of investment in the Garda workforce and ensure that the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. A further 800 new Garda Recruits will enter the Garda College. This will see Garda numbers reach the 14,000 mark by the end of 2018.

  In addition a further 500 civilians will also be recruited to fill critical skills gaps across the organisation and to facilitate the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and technical duties to front-line operational duties. There are plans to strengthen the Garda Reserve with new Reserves expected to commence training early in 2018.

  This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána.  We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Garda Division, including the Tipperary Division, in the coming years.

  STRENGTH OF THE TIPPERARY DIVISION 31 OCTOBER 2017

DISTRICTDISTRICTDISTRICT
CAHIRARDFINNAN  1
 BALLYPOREEN1
 CAHIR53
 CASHEL14
 CLOGHEEN1
 TOTAL70
CLONMELCARRICK-ON-SUIR14
 CLONMEL55
 FETHARD1
 KILSHEELAN1
 MULLINAHONE1
 TOTAL72
NENAGHBORRISOKANE3
 CLOUGHJORDAN1
 LORRHA1
 MONEYGALL  1
 NENAGH43
 NEWPORT11
 PORTROE1
 ROSCREA20
NENAGH TotalTOTAL81
THURLESBALLINGARRY SOUTH1
 BORRISOLEIGH1
 HOLYCROSS  1
 KILLENAULE3
 TEMPLEMORE  24
 TEMPLETUOHY1
 THURLES81
 TOTAL112
TIPPERARY TOWNBANSHA1
 CAPPAWHITE1
 GOLDEN1
 TIPPERARY TOWN38
 TOTAL41
TIPPERARY TOTAL 376

Departmental Reviews

 60. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the measures he is taking to deal with issues in his Department (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51749/17]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Deputy will be aware that the Taoiseach announced last week that the Government intends to appoint an external reviewer to examine the process of discovery for the Disclosures Tribunal with a view to reporting by Christmas.  In addition, a Change Implementation Group is to be established to assess progress in implementing the recommendations arising from the Toland report in 2014.  This will include a review of the culture and structure of the Department and the group will be asked to make recommendations for change.  That review will also examine in particular the relationship between the Department and An Garda Síochána to ensure that the relationship is appropriately structured and operates to ensure better performance.  I expect the terms of reference and membership of this Group to be finalised in the next week.   

I should say that the Toland Report recognised that “one of the key strengths” of the Department was the “willingness, flexibility and can-do attitude of many of its loyal staff” as well as the experience and depth of knowledge across a complex range of issues.  Since my appointment as Minister, I have found both management and staff in the Department and across the Justice and Equality sector to be capable, adaptable and fully committed to public service.  Change is a continuous process and in keeping with best international practice, earlier this year my Department contracted external management experts to undertake a stocktake of progress to date and assist the Department’s Management Board in prioritising further reform measures for the next three years. 

The Deputy will be aware that the culture of the Department has been highlighted as a key area requiring change.  I understand that following a wide-ranging consultation with staff and external stakeholders, a Culture and Values Charter was published in 2016 with the objective of fostering a more outward facing, listening organisational culture. These values form the core of all induction and leadership training with a view to informing the way in which the Department engages with the public, with staff and stakeholders and work is ongoing to ensure that this continues to be embedded in the organisation.  A positive outcome of the response to the Toland report is an increasing engagement with stakeholders both internal and external, including the Oireachtas Justice Committee. 

I have previously outlined my concerns to this House about the sheer scale and breadth of the Department's responsibilities.  The Toland Report also recognised this and called for a detailed analysis with a view to dividing the Department.  This analysis was conducted by external experts through 2016/2017 and concluded that such a restructuring should be progressed.  I would very much support that process. 

I envisage that both the stocktake process, in which both my predecessor and I participated, together with the structures review, will be helpful to the work of the Change Implementation Group.  For my own part I intend to fully support the management and all in the Department in completing this challenging change agenda.


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