Dáil Éireann - Volume 556 - 24 October, 2002

Written Answers. - Garda IT Systems.

  144. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the budget and manpower allocated to upgrading the garda information technology system and other relevant enforcement technology in each of the past five years, 2002 inclusive; when the upgrade of the information technology system will be completed; when it will be able to cater for the new penalty points system; the reason for the delays to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19671/02]

  Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): I am committed to providing the Garda with the necessary resources to assist them in the fight against crime, including the provision of modern technology. In this area, the resources available to the Garda have been significantly enhanced in recent years. I refer the Deputy to a detailed reply I gave to his colleague, Deputy Durkan, on this matter in response to Questions Nos. 158 and 161 on 17 October 2002.

  The Government Road Safety Strategy, 1998-2002, provided for the implementation of a penalty points system in support of road safety [453]enforcement. The legislation necessary for this measure was passed by the Oireachtas in March 2002. Excessive speed is recognised as one of the most significant contributions to road accident causation and to address this specific issue, officials of my Department, together with the Garda Síochána have been working closely with the Department of Transport on the introduction of a manual system for penalty points for speeding offences with a view to its introduction by the end of October 2002. I fully support this initiative. The issue of road safety and, in particular, detection of speeding offences has already been the subject of significant investment in enforcement measures by the Garda Síochána.

  A contract for the development of a computerised fixed charge processing system for the Garda Síochána to facilitate the introduction of an electronic system for notification of penalty point offences to the Department of the Environment and Local Government was signed in September 2002. Work is now under way on this project. From a Garda Síochána perspective, this computer system will facilitate the full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Road Traffic Act, 2002. As part of the overall computerisation of the process, electronic interfaces are also planned between the relevant agencies and Departments, that is, the Garda Síochána, the Courts Service and the Department of the Environment and Local Government to ensure that the penalty points imposed on offending drivers are recorded on the national driver file maintained by the Department of the Environment and Local Government. I am committed to the completion of this overall project as quickly as possible.

  With regard to the question of figures on budgets and manpower, I am informed by the Garda authorities that in the time available it has not been possible to prepare the figures requested. I will forward the information directly to the Deputy as soon as it comes to hand.