29 September 2015

Minister Fitzgerald announces unprecedented Capital Investment in Justice Sector

Investing in 21st Century Policing to prevent and tackle crime in both urban and rural communities 




  • €875 million in capital funding for Justice sector in addition to new public-private partnership (PPP) projects 
  • PPP projects to deliver state of-the-art Family/Children Courts Complex in Dublin and new Garda station construction nationwide
  • €46 million for new Garda vehicles
  • Major additional investment of €205m in Garda Síochána technology and systems
  • €18 million for refurbishment of Garda stations
  • Funding for development of new Forensic Science Laboratory
 

Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice and Equality has today welcomed the unprecedented allocation of €875 million in capital funding along with approval for further public-private partnership projects in respect of An Garda Síochána and the Courts Service. The Minister sets-out the strategic objectives for the planned investment in the Justice sector as outlined in the Government Capital Plan 2016-21.  
 
“This allocation demonstrates this Government’s commitment to investing in 21st Century policing,  by ensuring An Garda Síochána have the vehicles and technology to be effective, mobile and responsive to prevent and tackle crime in both urban and rural communities.”

“This investment will also finally ensure appropriate state-of-the-art facilities where family law cases can be heard through the construction of a new state-of-the-art Family & Children’s Court complex at Hammond Lane in Dublin.”


In total, €875 million in capital funding has been allocated to the Justice sector with further approval and funding for public-private partnership projects.
·        A total allocation of €46 million is being provided for new Garda vehicles;
·        A major additional investment of €205m is being made in new Garda Síochána technology and systems;
·        €18m is being provided for Garda Station refurbishment;
·        Funding is to be provided for the construction of a much needed new Forensic Science Laboratory at a site at Backweston, outside Lucan.
·        €10m is being provided for Courts refurbishments.

The additional Public Private Partnership projects will include:
·        New Garda projects and facilities;
·        Development of state-of-the-art Family Law and Children’s Courts building, together with additional Court rooms for the Supreme Court and other Courts offices, to be developed on the Hammond Lane site, in Dublin, adjacent to the Four Courts.  


Investing in 21st Century Policing – New Garda vehicles and ICT systems
Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the total allocation of €46 million for Garda vehicles.

Minister Fitzgerald said that: “the substantial investment of €46 million for new Garda vehicles proves this Government’s ongoing priority commitment to ensure that the Garda fleet is modern, effective and fit-for-purpose.”

Funding will be provide for both regular Garda patrol vehicles as well as specialist, high-power vehicles for targeted operations.
 
The Minister added: “Access to new and modern vehicles is vital in ensuring Gardai can be mobile, responsive and visible in the community, both urban and rural."

"In terms of rural policing our priority has been focussed on delivering highly-mobile and responsive Garda patrols in rural communities which are being supported by this Government’s ongoing high level of investment in new vehicles.”
 
Since 2012, this Government has invested nearly €29 million in new Garda vehicles with 370 new Garda vehicles having come on stream since the start of this year. In addition Minister Fitzgerald recently allocated €700,000 to An Garda Síochána to purchase new specialised vehicles to support frontline Gardaí responding to current and emerging crime threats, including burglaries committed by highly-mobile gangs. This is also supported by the separate recent allocation of €1.75 million to upgrade surveillance equipment on Garda aircraft, including infra-red cameras for night-time use which will greatly enhance the capacity of Gardaí to monitor and track highly-mobile gangs and tackle night-time burglars.

Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the additional allocation of €205 million for Garda ICT systems and technology. This will bring the overall Garda ICT funding to €330 million over the lifetime of the capital plan.

The Minister stated: “The substantial additional investment of €205 million in new technology and systems for An Garda Síochána delivers on my commitment to progress important reforms of An Garda Síochána on foot of last year’s comprehensive report from the Garda Síochána Inspectorate.
 
“This is an area which has been long-neglected, but with this investment we will consign outdated paper-based practices to the dustbin and equip our police service for the digital era.
 
“This breakthrough allocation will deliver new system which will ensure a more responsive and coordinated deployment of Gardai in the community and improved Garda response times. It will underpin better supports for victims and it will greatly strengthen An Garda Síochána’s capacity for major crime investigation and enhance intelligence-led policing, all of which are key to better crime prevention and safer communities in our cities and rural towns and villages.”  
 
Examples of the new integrated systems to be developed through this investment include:

·        New Computed Aided Dispatch system – to ensure more responsive and coordinated deployment of Gardai in the community and to improve Garda response times;
·        Mobile technology - to give Gardaí secure mobile access to critical information when and where they need it.
·        Investigations Management Systems - to ensure enhanced management of crime investigations;
·        Extending the rollout of Automated Number Plate Recognition (APNR) - to enhance and upgrade the existing system to enhance policing of road safety and compliance;

These and other new technology solutions for use by Gardai will cut back on the amount of time involved in paperwork, so that Gardai can spend more time engaged in front-line policing.

The Garda Commissioner is currently finalising a detailed, multi-annual Transformation Strategy which will provide a further roadmap for the planned investment.  This will be underpinned with robust governance structures and take account of the recommendations arising from various reports into An Garda Síochána, most notably those by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate.  


New and refurbished Garda stations
In addition to the ongoing construction of three new Divisional Headquarters in Kevin Street, Dublin, Galway city and Wexford Town, €18 million is being provided for the refurbishment of Garda stations throughout the country.
 
Minister Fitzgerald stated: “This funding will prove invaluable in allowing us to modernise and refurbish older Garda stations at key locations around the country, ensuring safe, modern working environment for Gardai as well as fit-for-purpose facilities for visitors, victims and suspects.”

However, the Minister added that “there is significant construction/redevelopment work needed in relation to certain Garda stations throughout the country which is critical to delivering effective policing service and to tackle crime.

“Accordingly, a new PPP project will be developed to provide new Garda stations and facilities such as modern PEMS (Property and Exhibit Management Stores) in a number of Garda stations throughout the country. Further details of this project will be announced in due course.”
 
New Forensic Science Laboratory
Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the provision of funding for the development and fit-out of a new Forensic Science Laboratory at a site in Backweston, outside Lucan.
 
The Minister stated: “This development will strengthen the Laboratory’s capacity to meet the realities and demands of 21st century criminal investigations and allow for necessary expansion following the forthcoming introduction of the DNA database.”  


New Courts Complex at Hammond Lane
Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the plans for a new Public-Private Partnership to deliver on the Government’s proposals for a dedicated and integrated Family Law and Children’s Courts building, together with additional Court rooms for the Supreme Court and other Courts offices, at a site at Hammond Lane, in Dublin.
 The Minister stated: “This Government has overseen landmark reforms in the areas of family law and children. We have enacted the Children and Family Relationships Act which provides for the most comprehensive reform of family law since the foundation of the State. We also brought forward both the Children’s and Marriage Equality referenda and established Tusla, Ireland’s first dedicated Child and Family Agency, I have recently published new consolidated legislation to update the laws on domestic violence.
 
“It is only right that as we update our laws, we should also update our Courts infrastructure. I am very conscious of the concerns expressed by the judiciary, legal practitioners and victims groups in relation to the poor state and set-up of many Family Court facilities. The need of a new state-of-the-art family law and children's complex in Dublin has been a key priority for me as Minister.

"I am delighted to now be in a position to confirm that a Family Law and Children’s Courts complex will be delivered at Hammond Lane as part of a new PPP project."

"I wish to thank my colleague, Minister of State Simon Harris and the Office for Public Works for their support and hard work in supporting and planning for this important project."
 

Prison Buildings
Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that funding is being provided to the Irish Prison Service to complete the elimination of slopping out in the prisons estate, with funding provided for essential building works, including the completion of Limerick Prison and refurbishment work at E Block in Portlaoise.   This follows earlier investment in Mountjoy and a new prison in Cork due to be completed this year.  This outlay supports the priorities in the IPS Strategic Plan and fulfils a key commitment in the Programme for Government.  
 

Courthouse developments
The Capital Framework provides for the construction of seven courthouses which are included in the existing Courts PPP building project. The locations are Mullingar, Limerick, Cork, Letterkenny, Drogheda, Wexford and Waterford. In addition €10 million is provided in exchequer funding for Courts building refurbishment.

The Minister concluded: "These investments will deliver significant improvement to the way public services are delivered in the Justice sector and all the projects will be subject to robust governance and oversight."