I wish to thank Senator Conway for raising this matter and I appreciate the concerns that are involved.
The House will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the Garda organisation.
This allocation of resources is constantly monitored by the Commissioner and her senior management in the context of demographics, crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level. This is done to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources.
The Small Areas Policing Programme, being developed within the Dublin Metropolitan Region, is a Community Policing Areas Project. The Dublin Metropolitan Region will be divided into a series of Community Policing Areas (known as CPAs) with a view to allocating responsibility for a specific geographical area to a team of nominated Community Gardaí.
These Community Policing Areas are in line with the Central Statistics Office’s Small Area Populations, Electoral Areas and Garda District and Sub-District boundaries. I am informed by the Commissioner that there are no additional costs associated with this project, other than costs associated with normal policing functions.
This particular pilot project is in its infancy and a considerable amount of work has been done to ensure Gardai respond more efficiently to the policing challenges in local communities by working with local communities.
This pilot is being rolled out within the Dublin Metropolitan Region, and in particular in the North Inner City.
The initial work to be conducted in each Community Police Area (CPA) will include:-
· Liaising with the Community
· Providing a consistent Community Policing Service to that particular area
· Identifying stakeholders and the creation of a stakeholder database within the CPA
· Identifying areas requiring attention within the CPA
· Identifying local community groups
· Identifying the demographics of CPA
Each Community Policing Team will be responsible for all policing within their assigned areas including the monitoring of crime trends.
I might add, as Senators will be aware, that the Government is implementing a comprehensive programme of justice and policing reform. I have indicated that the spectrum of issues that must be addressed is complex and deep-rooted, not just relating to high-level issues such as oversight, change management and the role of whistle-blowers; but also to matters of basic policing and local administration.
In this context, I am very pleased with this new community based approach to policing which I see as an important development in fostering engagement between local communities and the Gardai in targeting the concerns of local residents. It is a cost effective approach to bringing about improvements in people’s environments.
In conclusion, I would like to assure the Senator that the Government is and will continue to be, fully supportive of this new initiative and approach to policing. It is currently at a very early stage and much has to be done prior to exploring the scope of extending the Small Area Policing Plan to other priority areas.