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Statement From Justice Minister Regarding Anti-Social Behaviour.

The Minister for Justice Mrs Helen McEntee TD and the Minister of State for Law Reform Mr James Browne TD met today in the Department of Justice with the Garda Commissioner Mr Drew Harris and Ms Angela Willis, [latter Assistant Commissioner for the Dublin Metropolitan Region].

The meeting was convened to discuss safety and anti-social behaviour in Dublin and other areas around the country, following public concern over a number of recent incidents.

The Ministers and Commissioner agreed that high visibility policing is crucial to ensuring that people are safe and feel safe.

This will be prioritised by supporting and enhancing operations, such as Operation Citizen, which provides a visible presence in the city centre, and Operation Tombola, which tackles anti-social behaviour over the Halloween period, and high visibility policing through local teams in our other towns and cities.

Ongoing recruitment into An Garda Síochána will be key to achieving this, with the Minister and Commissioner agreeing that 200 recruits will soon enter the Garda College in Templemore, Co. Tipperary every three months.

The development of a permanent Garda station on O’Connell Street is a priority and, until the new facility opens, a high-visibility Garda presence will be maintained on the street.

The new, permanent station received planning permission this week and when opened in the coming months, will provide a permanent base for Gardaí working on Operation Citizen.

The Ministers, Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner also discussed how an increased presence on public transport can be provided through the Dublin Metropolitan Region.

The Minister has asked the Commissioner to also review the operation of anti-social behaviour legislation and procedures. An Garda Síochána are continuing to ensure compliance with bail requirements by repeat offenders.

The Minister for Justice will also examine what more can be done to assist Gardaí, such as the potential expansion of bail supervision schemes.

The Ministers, Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner agreed that the most effective way to deal with anti-social behaviour is through supports for communities and young people, such as Youth Diversion Programmes and other services, as led by Minister Browne, through the Youth Justice Strategy.

These include the Community Safety Innovation Fund, established by Minister McEntee and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath, to reinvest the proceeds of crime, seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), into community safety projects.

The first round of awards will be announced by Minister McEntee and Minister Browne imminently, with funding being drawn down by the end of the year.

However, Minister McEntee today confirmed that one of the successful applicants is the “That’s a Wrap” project from Familibase, which serves Ballyfermot and the surrounding areas.

The project will be given over €135,000 to assist with outreach programmes for hard to reach young people.

It was also agreed that tackling inter-generational deprivation requires a whole society response, and that the development of Community Safety Partnerships will be the key mechanism for ensuring that all aspects of Irish society, work together to make sure that people are safe and feel safe in their communities.

Ministers McEntee and Browne also provided an update on key Government legislation, including:-

  • Giving An Garda Síochána the tools and technology to fight crime in a digital era by rolling out improved CCTV, body worn cameras and facial recognition technology.
  • Working with Ministers Ryan and Naughton to tackle the illegal use of scramblers.
  • Giving local people and local representatives a real say in how to make their communities safer through the new Community Safety Partnerships.
  • Using community sanctions to address criminality, reduce reoffending and provide protection to the public.
  • The Garda Powers Bill to modernise and update the powers available to An Garda Síochána.
  • New legislation to criminalise the grooming of children to commit criminal offences, together with an intervention programme to support communities and break the link between the gangs and vulnerable youths.

Minister McEntee said: “We will always support communities – honest, hard-working people who want and deserve to be safe on their streets. We will never allow anti-social behaviour from a small minority terrorise any community.

Communities who need our help will get it, and people who deserve to be punished will be punished.

It is vitally important that people are safe and feel safe in the communities and in our city centres, and Commissioner Harris and I today discussed these issues, along with Minister Browne and Assistant Commissioner Willis.

High visibility policing is central to this and Operation Citizen and other initiatives are key to ensuring that people can enjoy Dublin, whether they live or work in the city – or just want to enjoy all it has to offer.

As Minister for Justice, I will always support An Garda Síochána with the resources and tools they need to fund these important operations.

However, the most important way we can tackle anti-social behaviour is through supports and services, such as Youth Diversion Schemes and the Community Safety Innovation Fund”.

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