Dáil Éireann - Volume 632 - 22 February, 2007

Written Answers. - Garda Operations.

Mr. O’Connor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress made by Gardaí in Dublin under Operation Anvil; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6792/07]

  Mr. McDowell: Operation Anvil commenced in the Garda Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) on 17 May, 2005. It is an intelligence led policing initiative, the focus of which is the targeting of active criminals and their associates involved in serious crime by preventing and disrupting their criminal activity through extensive additional overt patrolling and static check points by uniform, mobile and foot patrols, supported by armed plain clothes patrols. The Operation remains in place and is ongoing in the DMR.

Operation Anvil is central to the strategy of the Garda Síochána in combating serious crime and in particular murder. The Operation has proved to be very successful in disrupting the criminal activities of a number of key criminal gangs. It has resulted in a number of high-profile arrests and the acquisition of intelligence on the movements of criminals. Notable improvements have been achieved in the recorded number of incidents of crime being targeted by the Operation. In particular, crime statistics for the fourth quarter of 2006 showed an increase of 34% in detections of possession of firearms which contributed to the reduction of 3.4% in discharges of firearms. Operation Anvil has also contributed to the increase in that quarter of detections of offences of possession of drugs for sale or supply which is closely associated with many murders using firearms.

[470] The most recent figures available to me, up to 11 February, show the massive effect which Operation Anvil has been having since its inception in May 2005. In the Dublin Metropolitan Region there have been 7,488 arrests for serious crimes, comprising of 69 arrests for murder, 1,916 arrests for burglary, 880 arrests for robbery and 879 arrests for serious assaults. There have also been 1,793 arrests for theft offences. In addition 27,804 searches have been carried out, comprising 24,177 for drugs, 2,168 for thefts and 1,459 for firearms. Also 631 firearms have been seized and there have been 9,533 seizures under Section 41 of the Road Traffic Act. Over 49,900 checkpoints have been carried out and property to the value of €16.2m has been recovered.

I am sure that all members of the House will join me in commending An Garda Síochána for their success in this regard.

While the Deputy’s question refers to Dublin, I should mention that Operation Anvil was extended nationwide during 2006 and consists of a series of special operations, proposed by each Regional Assistant Commissioner, which are designed to focus on areas where there is a high incidence of crime.

The Operation outside the DMR is significantly different from that in the DMR, in that initiatives have a short time-focus and are designed to address the particular needs of specific areas. A number of operations have been completed, while further operations are ongoing. The methodologies utilised in doing this vary from area to area and from time to time, commensurate with the assessed need. For these reasons there is no comparable system in place for the systematic collation of statistical data in these Garda Regions.

Operation Anvil is, of course, only one element of the unprecedented resources being made available in the fight against crime.

[471] I have made it clear to the Garda Commissioner that Operation Anvil will continue to be funded to the extent and as long as the Commissioner considers that it is necessary to do so and it is fulfilling its objectives.