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Dáil Question on relieving Gardaí of administrative duties – December 2015

QUESTION NO: 83

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald)
by Deputy Anthony Lawlor
for ORAL on Tuesday, 1st December, 2015.
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures in place to relieve Gardaí of administrative duties, and to allow them to concentrate their efforts on crime prevention; her plans to focus on this; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Anthony Lawlor
REPLY.
As the Deputy will appreciate the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of personnel among the Garda Regions, Divisions, and Districts. Garda management keep this distribution under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of resources.

There are currently over 2,000 full-time-equivalent civilian support staff in the Garda Síochána making up 14% of the overall Garda workforce. Civilian personnel wholly or largely staff several vital operational support areas such as the Garda Central Vetting Unit, the Garda Information Services Centre, and the Fixed Charge Processing Office They also provide vital support services in a wide range of areas, such as human resources, training & development, IT and telecommunications, finance and procurement, internal audit, research and analysis, accommodation and fleet management, scene-of-crime support and medical services. In doing so, they release highly trained Gardaí from administrative tasks to operational policing.

I am committed to ensuring that the overall composition of the Garda workforce achieves the right balance between highly trained Gardaí and professional, skilled civilian staff. Having regard to international experience, there is undoubtedly value in exploring further opportunities for increasing the ratio of civilians to Gardaí, and for releasing Gardaí from administrative and other positions to front-line duties.

The process which is currently ongoing to civilianise border control functions at Dublin airport and the transfer of these responsibilities from An Garda Síochána to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department is an excellent example of this. The first phase of that project is now completed with civilian staff of INIS operating all passport controls in Terminal 1 on a 24/7 basis from 22 June, 2015. The civilianisation of front-line immigration checks in Terminal 2 is underway with civilian staff operating checks at the transit desk in that Terminal since October, 2015. The move to a 24/7 civilian operation in Terminal 2 will be completed over the coming months. I am also looking at deploying civilian officers to other major ports of entry to the State where this makes sense from a cost and efficiency perspective.

Further work in this area will be progressed in conjunction with the Garda Commissioner in the context of the report of the Garda Inspectorate of its review under the Haddington Road Agreement. The terms of reference of that review include all aspects of the operation and administration of An Garda Síochána including the structure, organisation and staffing of An Garda Síochána and the deployment of members and civilian staff to relevant and appropriate roles.