Latest: Assaults expected to exceed annual Garda target by 15%

Update 9.50pm: The number of assaults is on course to exceed Garda targets by 15% by the end of the year.

January was the only month so far in 2017 where the target was met.

Gardaí say that as the economy improves more people are going out for the night and alcohol and drug use has also increased.

Assistant Commissioner John Twomey said gardaí are running media campaigns and meeting with stakeholders to try tackle the situation:

"We have specific policing plans in place in key areas - working with public transport companies, licenced vintners, the local authority and working with the patrons that are coming here in terms of their own responsibility," he said.

"We're working in partnership with all those people to address this particular issue. It is a particular concern and it is an increase. It is related to an increase in the number of people out in these particular areas at night," he added.

Earlier: Garda expenditure on overtime is 53% over budget so far this year.

Senior members of the force told the Policing Authority today that they are in negotiations with the Department of Justice to ensure it does not affect key operations.

They claim that the 15 minutes paid parading time agreed during the last pay negotiations is having a significant impact on the budget.

Acting Commissioner Donall O'Cualáin said he is "anxious" to get the "best bang for our buck".

"That has taken a big chunk out of our discretionary piece," he said.

"We are very anxious to ensure that, in as much as we can, we can work and do our operations out of given resources and ensuring we use our rostering arrangements to get our best bang for our buck in that regard."

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