Dáil Éireann - Volume 638 - 26 September, 2007

Written Answers. - Crime Prevention.

[578] Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in the anti graffiti scheme in the Dublin City area; and if is intended to publicise in any way for example erecting signs and so on, the heavy penalties involved should persons be caught defacing areas already cleaned up. [20245/07]

  Deputy Brian Lenihan:My Department, in conjunction with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, embarked on a pilot project which commenced in August, 2006, to specifically deal with the removal of incidents of graffiti. This initiative involves the removal of graffiti from sites within the pilot areas of Dublin City, Galway City and Bray, Co. Wicklow. Particular emphasis was placed from the outset on RAPID areas and the project has also been extended to other sites within the pilot project boundaries.

The clean up operation, which commenced in August, 2006, was allocated a budget of €3 million for 2007. To date, approximately 2300 sites have been identified in Dublin City and allocated to contractors for cleaning. An independent evaluation of the programme is currently being examined.

As the deputy will be aware, primary responsibility for cleaning graffiti rests with Local Authorities under the Litter Pollution Act, 1997. The erection of signs of the kind referred to would not fall directly within my remit but I would, of course, be supportive of any measures which would help address this issue.

Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if funds will be made available to voluntary neighbourhood watch groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20246/07]

  Deputy Brian Lenihan:Neighbourhood Watch is a crime prevention programme which aims to enlist the active co-operation of the community in a neighbourhood by observing and reporting suspicious activities and by so doing reducing the level of criminal behaviour. Since its establishment, the Garda authorities have sought to encourage the active participation of the public in Neighbourhood Watch by encouraging and supporting communities to establish and maintain such initiatives. An Garda Síochána has been a strategic partner in driving and supporting Neighbourhood Watch through its Community Relations Section and local Garda management and has deployed Crime Prevention Officers and Liaison Gardaí to assist schemes.

[579] I am strongly of the view that voluntary community organisations have, through their support for and work with the Garda Síochána, an important role to play in crime prevention and the promotion of community safety. I very much support the work being carried out by Neighbourhood Watch and Community Alert Schemes throughout the country.

The Garda authorities have conducted a high level review of Neighbourhood Watch which involved consultation with local communities, Neighbourhood Watch Coordinators, operational Garda personnel and a wide range of internal and external stakeholders. Following on from the review process, An Garda Síochána has developed in consultation with stakeholders a five year strategy for Neighbourhood Watch which will run from 2007 to 2011.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that under this strategy funding will be provided. This will enable Neighbourhood Watch materials, such as manuals, booklets, stickers and other promotional items, as well as training to be provided to Neighbourhood Watch Schemes. An Garda Síochána will run media campaigns to publicise Neighbourhood Watch and will issue a national newsletter. It also plans to organise a biannual conference and arrange for research and evaluation.

In addition, Garda District Officers (Superintendents) will facilitate the holding of Neighbourhood Watch meetings at Garda Stations and will meet administrative costs associated with supporting Neighbourhood Watch schemes locally.