A Government initiative will see proceeds of crime being used for a new community fund.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath have agreed in principle to establish the Community Safety Innovation Fund.
The fund will provide additional funding for investment in community safety projects, reflecting on the successes of the gardaí and the Criminal Assets Bureau in disrupting criminal activity and seizing proceeds of crime.
Under new reforms from Ms McEntee, each local authority will have a community safety partnership.
The partnership will bring together local residents, businesses and politicians with the gardaí and other State services to devise and implement local community safety plans.
These plans will detail how best the community wants to prevent crime and will reflect community priorities and local safety issues.
Once established, the community safety partnerships could seek funding from the Community Safety Innovation Fund to implement their community safety proposals.
Ms McEntee said gardaí have had “significant” success in seizing cash and assets and in “hitting the criminal gangs who seek to spread misery in our communities where it hurts”.
She said gardaí and the CAB are “taking the fight” to the gangs, “but communities around Ireland are also doing vital work in ensuring crime does not take hold in their areas and amongst their young”.
She said in a statement: “My Justice Plan 2021 committed to breaking the link between the gangs and our vulnerable young people, and to strengthening community safety.
“The Community Safety Innovation Fund established by Minister McGrath and I will reflect the success of An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau in seizing the proceeds of crime and will fund projects communities themselves know will help in improving their safety.
At present, three pilot community safety partnerships have been established in Longford, Waterford, and Dublin’s north inner city.
It is planned the Community Innovation Safety Fund will:
- Ensure the best proposals to improve community safety will get the funding they need;
- Encourage the development of innovative ways in which to improve community safety from those people who best understand local community safety needs;
- Allow best practice on community safety to be shared with other partnerships around the country as new proposals get developed.
Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond said the announcement of the fund is a "hugely positive step in making communities safer".
He said: “Cash seized by State agencies has been on the rise for some years now, and rather than return this money to the exchequer for general spending, channelling it to the communities that need it the most to help them prevent crime from taking place will allow us to use the proceeds of crime to make our communities safer."