Friday 20 September 2019

Garda overtime slashed but other justice sector budgets to get a shot in the arm


Stock photo
Stock photo
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The Garda overtime budget has been cut for next year, but otherwise spending is set to increase across the justice sector.

Some €3.5m has been trimmed from the overtime budget for next year, bringing it down to €95m.

The move follows concerns expressed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that the level of spending on overtime in recent years was no longer sustainable.

However, cash is being made available for the recruitment of 800 gardaí, while the criminal legal aid scheme and the budgets of the Garda Ombudsman and the Data Protection Commissioner have also been given a shot in the arm.

Spending across the justice sector is set to increase by 8pc to €2.79bn next year.

The Garda budget is set to increase by 7pc to €1.65bn to cope with additional wage demands.

These demands will primarily be fuelled by the recruitments of hundreds of gardaí.

An additional €72m is being provided for payroll costs, which are set to be €1.05bn next year.

The force is also set for further 'civilianisation' to fill skills gaps and allow further redeployment of officers to front line duties.

The €3.5m saved by cutting overtime is set to go into the Garda training budget.

There will also be an additional €1.5m for the deployment of hand-held devices that process information in real time.

Some €34.5m is being made available towards the construction of the new Forensic Science Laboratory.

The budget for criminal legal aid, which has been under considerable strain, is set to increase by €12m to €61.3m.

The budget for the Reception and Integration Agency is set to jump €4m to €70.6m.

The Courts Service is also getting a budget increase, up €6.8m to €138.4m.

At least €2m of this is expected to go towards the recruitment of staff set to be involved in ICT and reform projects.

These include projects such as e-licensing, e-probate, and expanded use of technology in courtrooms.

The budget of the Data Protection Commissioner has been increased by €3.6m to €15.3m, in recognition of increased demands on her office following the introduction of GDPR.

Irish Independent

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