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Minister does not know Garda deployment ratios

3 December, 2003

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has described as "outrageous" a response (attached below) he received from the Minister for Justice in which he stated that he could not provide details of the per capita ratio of Gardai to population on a Divisional and District basis.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said: "It is totally outrageous that the Minister for Justice does not have this information, and that the Garda Commissioner is unable to provide it. This is very serious as it indicates a serious defect in the systems for evaluating how Garda resources are deployed.

"The Minister was only able to provide an overall figure of one member of An Garda Siochána to every 325 people in the State. But this tells us very little if we don't know how these Gardai are distributed in particular Garda Districts and Divisions. If we don't have this rather fundamental information then how on earth can we hope to deploy the resources that are available to the best advantage of the communities the Gardai are supposed to be serving. As things stand we have no way of knowing if current deployment patterns are optimal. How can the Minister or even Commissioner respond with assurance to communities who believe that they need more police resources? How, indeed, can the Minister argue that 2,000 more Gardai are needed - much less where best to deploy them - if he cannot objectively determine where there may be a personnel deficit? It smacks of either unwarranted secrecy or incompetence.

"Clearly the Minister is letting himself be fobbed off by the Garda authorities on this issue. Their response is just not acceptable and I would call on Minister McDowell to insist that these figures be made available to himself and to the public on an urgent basis.

"This total lack of transparency and accountability to the public is a prime example of why Sinn Fein is calling for the establishment of civilian oversight in the form of an independent Policing Board in this State." ENDS

Question and answer below

Question No: 311 To the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform

QUESTION: * To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the comparative per capita distribution of Gardai by division and by district - Aengus Ó Snodaigh

*For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 2nd December, 2003.

ANSWER: I have been informed by the Garda authorities that population statistics were last published by the Central Statistics Office in 2002. At that time the population stood at 3,917,336 while current strength of the Force is 12,031 which equates to one member of An Garda Siochana per 325.6 head of population.

As Garda Divisional/District boundaries do not correspond to District Electoral Divisions it is not possible to provide the Deputy with the information sought on the comparative per capita ratio of population by individual Garda Divisions and Districts.

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