Garda model reforms: Increased number of front-line gardaí and less regions aim to maximise impact

The Garda Commissioner will today announce sweeping changes to policing in Ireland as part of a new Garda operating model – including increasing the number of front-line gardaí.

The reformed policing plan will see the number of Garda divisions cut from 28 to 19, while the number of regions is also expected to decrease from six to four.

It is expected that the plan will be fully implemented over the next three years with the hope it will maximise the organisation’s operational impact.

It aims to move the current operating system away from a district level towards a divisional focus.

Senior Garda management responsibilities will also be allocated on a functional rather than geographical basis.

There will be four superintendents for each division; two dealing with community engagement, one with crime and one with performance assurance.

An assistant principal will also be in charge of business services within each division.

This model has been piloted in a number of Garda divisions in recent months in Cork City, Mayo, Galway and the DMR South Central in the capital.

It is expected the number of superintendents will reduce nationally as a result of the change, while there will be additional mid-level gardaí in each division.

Sources said the new operating model may cause concern among mid-level gardaí about promotion opportunities if the number of gardaí at a senior level is reduced.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has held meetings with senior gardaí this week to outline the new model. It will be officially released this morning at the Garda DMR headquarters in Harcourt Square.

A Garda spokesman said: “The new operating model will see improvements to the organisation’s structures, processes, services and governance that will increase the number of front-line gardaí, deliver a more localised service to communities, and maximise An Garda Síochána’s operational impact.”

A move to a divisional policing model was a key recommendation in the Garda Inspectorate’s ‘Changing Policing in Ireland’ report.

In their assessment, the oversight body said the “current structure is highly inefficient and a move to a much smaller number of divisions would release significant numbers of members and Garda staff from administrative work back to front-line duties.

“With the recommendation to move to a divisional policing model, the Inspectorate believes that the divisional chief superintendent should have full responsibility for all aspects of policing.

“This includes full authority over the deployment of all personnel (members and Garda staff) within their division,” the report added.

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