New teams of dedicated community Gardaí to help build stronger, safer communities and tackle anti-social behaviour will be rolled out across the country by the end of next year, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has announced.
The reforms to strengthen community policing will see new Community Policing Areas created nationwide by An Garda Síochána– with a dedicated Community Garda given responsibility for each new Community Policing Area.
These reforms have been championed and driven by Fine Gael, the party of law and order, in the Department of Justice.
Communities will be able to identify and contact their Community Garda via the Garda Síochána website – and address issues of local concern such as anti-social behaviour, crime prevention and community safety.
Each Community Garda will have a responsibility to be highly visible, active and accessible in their allocated areas – and to engage with local people, groups and businesses.
The dedicated, local Community Garda will be at the frontline of a reformed Garda service which has community policing at its core.
These reforms will complement the ongoing recruitment into An Garda Síochána – with Minister McEntee securing funding for 1,000 new recruits entering the Garda College in Templemore next year.
Minster McEntee said:“We in Fine Gael know there is nothing better than the local Garda who knows the community – and who the community themselves know and trust.
“High visibility policing – with the local Garda serving communities across the country – is at the core of building stronger, safer communities.
“I believe having new, dedicated community Gardaí serving and helping local people and needs will be hugely welcomed.
“It is a real and tangible demonstration of our commitment to resource, strengthen and reform An Garda Síochána to better serve communities, tackle crime and increase safety across Ireland.”
The Minister also confirmed that a new Garda recruitment campaign will open next year to ensure there is a steady flow of 200 recruits entering Templemore every three months.
“We are the party which re-opened the Garda Training College – and next year we will recruit 1,000 more Gardaí into Templemore.
“And I am clear that our target to have 15,000 Gardaí is not a ceiling. I want to strengthen An Garda Síochána even further, and that is why it is vitally important that we have regular recruitment campaigns and a steady intake of recruits into Templemore.
“Next year, we will have 200 recruits into the College every three months and I want to see that maintained over the coming years.”
Under the reforms being implemented in An Garda Síochána, and to be completed by the end of 2023, each of the 19 Garda Divisions will be broken down into a number of Community Policing Areas.
The individual Community Policing Areas will be determined by An Garda Síochána.
Each Division will also have a number of Community Engagement Teams – consisting of an inspector, a sergeant and the dedicated community Gardaí.
In addition to the dedicated community Gardaí having responsibility for their own local areas, they will also be able to support other Garda teams within their divisions as required.
The changes are a result of the new Garda Operating Model now in place as a result of legislation enacted by Minister McEntee. It also frees up more Gardaí from desk and administrative work.
Since 2017, almost 900 Gardaí have been reassigned from administrative to frontline duties and 400 Garda civilian staff will be recruited next year to put more Gardaí back on the frontline.