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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 110 - Gangland crime [44471/17].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 110 - Gangland crime [44471/17]. (19 Oct 2017)

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110. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which An Garda Síochána has succeeded in disarming criminal gangs, with particular reference to the ongoing feuds between such gangs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44471/17]

 

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will appreciate that the response to gang-related violence and crime is ongoing and we must remain adaptable to changing circumstances in pursuing a comprehensive and robust response to gang-related violence and crime. I remain in close contact with the Commissioner and I will continue to provide every support possible to enable An Garda Síochána face down the threat posed by violent criminal gangs.  

 

  Garda operational responses to gang-related crime in Dublin are coordinated under Operation Hybrid. As of 11 September 2017, there have been 64 arrests in relation to gang-related killings, with 8 persons charged in connection with those murders and a further 3 persons charged with related offences. In addition, 30 firearms have been seized and over 13,170 lines of enquiry conducted. In excess of 39,620 high visibility checkpoints have been implemented with significant support from Armed Support Units and a significant amount of CCTV footage, mobile phone traffic, and forensic evidence is also being examined.  Operation Hybrid is reviewed on a weekly basis to maintain optimal impact.

 

  At the request of the Garda Commissioner in 2016, the Government moved decisively to strengthen Garda resources to deal with gang-related crime in the Dublin area.  In particular funding was approved for the establishment of a dedicated Armed Support Unit for the DMR. The new dedicated Armed Support Unit for the Dublin Metropolitan Region was launched on 14 December 2016, and is now operational on a 24/7 basis. The establishment of the new ASU had been a particular priority given the identified need to enhance armed support capability in Dublin and to free up the resources of the Emergency Response Unit. All the necessary resources have been provided to equip the new ASU and we have also taken steps to upgrade the equipment available to the Emergency Response Unit and the Special Detective Unit.

 

  During 2016, the Garda Commissioner established a Special Task Force to target a number of organised crime gangs based in the Dublin area with particular emphasis on the second and third level criminals. As part of the setting up of this unit, which is under the control of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, six Gardaí and one Sergeant were seconded to the Criminal Assets Bureau to assist in the investigations into the persons identified to trace and target any assets which have been generated through their criminal conduct.

 

  New powers have been introduced under the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2016 which provides for Bureau Officers, subject to certain conditions, to immediately seize and detain property for a 24 hour period. Provision is also made for this period to be extended upon the authorisation of the Chief Bureau Officer, subject to certain conditions, for a further period not exceeding 21 days. In this context, the Act also lowered the thresholds applicable to seizures by reducing the value of property involved from €13,000 to €5,000. In addition, new regulations were made to reduce the prescribed amount of cash suspected of being the proceeds of crime which can be seized, from €6,500 to €1,000.

 

  In addition, the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act 2016, brought forward by the Minister for Health, has new provisions to counteract the illegal sale of prescription drugs. On 5 July 2016, Government approval was granted in relation to enhancing and updating legislation for the lawful interception of communications and for covert electronic surveillance, and work in this regard is ongoing. My Department and An Garda Síochána are also considering if there are any other legislative measures which might strengthen the response to the activities of organised crime groups. We have also seen the introduction of rules of court to complete the establishment of a second Special Criminal Court, so that it can deal with the backlog of cases on hand.

 

  We have also seen unprecedented cooperation between Irish and Spanish authorities leading to important arrests and seizures, with police officers from both jurisdictions participating in successful joint operations in Ireland and in Spain. There has also been an important arrest of a suspect in the Netherlands and I am committed to ensuring that Gardaí will continue to have all necessary supports to continue their pursuit of criminal groups in cooperation with other police forces as required.

 

  The Deputy is aware of the substantial investments which have been made in policing resources, including an allocation of almost €100 million for Garda overtime in 2017 which will facilitate the continuation of large-scale policing operations, including those targeting gangland crime, burglary and terrorist activities. Underpinning all these measures is this Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.  To make this a reality for all, the Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. In 2017, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Appointments will also be made to the Garda Reserve of approximately 300.    

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Irish-related
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention, Policy
Date
19 October 2017
EndNote

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