Dáil Éireann - Volume 592 - 18 November, 2004

Written Answers. - Garda Strength.

  159. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the implications for the authorised number of gardaí in 2005 and in 2006 of the Government’s decision to increase the number of gardaí to 14,000 by 2008. [29540/04]

  Mr. McDowell: I am pleased to say that the Government has approved my proposal to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members, in line with the commitment in An Agreed Programme for Government. This is a key commitment in the programme for government and its implementation will significantly strengthen the operational capacity of the force.

A new recruitment campaign will start shortly as an initial step in increasing the force strength to 14,000. The Garda Commissioner will place advertisements in the national newspapers within the next fortnight inviting applications to join the force, and record numbers of recruits will be taken on. Each quarter, for the next three years, approximately 274 recruits will be taken into the college, amounting to almost 1,100 recruits each year. Taking into account projected retirements, it will lead to a combined organisational strength, of both attested gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,000 as early as 2006.

The commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these resources. However, the additional resources will be targeted at the areas of greatest need as is envisaged in the programme for government. The programme identifies in particular areas with a significant drugs problem and a large number of public order offences but it will be possible to address other priorities as well, such as the need to significantly increase the number of gardaí allocated to traffic duties. I have already promised that the additional gardaí will not be put on administrative duties. Rather, they will be put directly into front line, operational, high-visibility policing. They will have a real impact.

The maximum number of gardaí permitted in each rank is set out and amended from time to time in a Government order known as a ranks order which is made under the Garda Síochána [1543] Act 1972. The ranks order will be amended by Government to allow the personnel strength of the Garda Síochána to be increased to the target strength of 14,000 members.