Dáil Éireann - Volume 608 - 20 October, 2005
Written Answers - Garda Deployment.
Mr. O’Shea Mr. O’Shea
12. Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the setting up of an independent traffic police force to release the Garda Síochána from time consuming duties in policing road traffic and related matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29642/05]
Mr. McDowell Mr. McDowell
Mr. McDowell: I am convinced that the Garda Síochána is by far the most appropriate structure within which to locate the enforcement of road traffic law and road safety. Road traffic offences are serious offences, which too often lead to fatalities and serious injuries. One of the main strategic goals in the Government Road Safety Strategy 2004-2006 and the Garda Síochána corporate strategy 2005-2007, which reflects Government policing priorities, is reducing the incidence of fatal and serious injury collisions on our roads. The Garda Síochána gives a high priority to meeting this and its other strategic goals. I believe that it is through a unitary police force, meeting all its strategic goals in a mutually reinforcing and integrated way, that we can best prevent death and serious injuries on our roads. I also believe that this follows international best practice.
Last November I announced a highly significant initiative in this area, the establishment by the Commissioner of a Garda traffic corps with a dedicated budget and staff structure. Furthermore, as a result of the Government’s approval of my proposal to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members, the Garda Commissioner will be in a position, as each cycle of recruit training is completed, to assign additional new members to the areas of greatest need with particular regard to certain priorities. These priorities will include the traffic corps, which is in the process of increasing its numbers from 520 members to its planned staffing complement of 1,200.
Also last November, I published the Garda strategic review of traffic policing. The strategic review is the blueprint for a transformation in the enforcement of road traffic law. A key recommendation of the strategic review is that a new  position of assistant commissioner in charge of all aspects of road traffic law should be created. The Government subsequently approved the appointment of an additional Garda assistant commissioner and the Commissioner appointed an assistant commissioner with responsibility for all traffic matters, including the traffic corps, and implementation of the recommendations contained in the strategic review of traffic policing. The assistant commissioner is a member of the top management team in the force and, as such, is bringing authority and visible leadership to the traffic corps and traffic law enforcement generally from the outset.
Never before has road traffic safety been given this level of priority within the Garda Síochána. I believe that the Garda traffic corps, with new visible leadership, increased strength, expanded fleet, dedicated budget, clear strategy and tough targets, will provide an extremely effective traffic management resource which will reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on our roads.
The Deputy may also be aware of my plans to establish a Garda reserve as provided for in the Garda Act. The purpose of the Garda reserve, which is a standard feature of policing in many other common law countries, will be to assist the Garda Síochána in the performance of its functions, including policing road traffic and related matters. I have asked the Garda Commissioner to submit proposals to me for the reserve, addressing all relevant recruitment, training and development issues.
Dáil Éireann 608 Written Answers Garda Deployment.