The key structural change under the Government’s Five Year Reform and High-level Workforce Plan is the replacement of the current district model of policing with a divisional model where responsibilities will be allocated on a functional rather than geographical basis, subject to modifications to ensure the close relationship with communities is maintained in large rural Divisions.
The basis for this change is a recommendation in the Garda Inspectorate’s Changing Policing in Ireland report which identified major difficulties with the current district model of policing where the local superintendent has full responsibility for a wide range of policing activity in his/her geographical area. The difficulties include:
highly inefficient deployment of resources across District boundaries;
widespread inconsistencies between Districts in the provision of services;
duplicate operational, administrative and management units that take resources from patrol, investigative and community policing; and
the very wide portfolio of responsibilities assigned to the District officer.
The solution identified by the Inspectorate is to move to a divisional model of policing where superintendents are assigned responsibilities on the basis of functions rather than geography. Each division would have a management team comprising the chief superintendent and superintendents with business supports including finance and HR provided by civilian staff with appropriate expertise.
The Government accepted the Inspectorate’s recommendation to move to a Divisional policing model as part of the Five Year Reform and High-level Workforce Plan for An Garda Síochána. The new model is being rolled out on a phased basis starting with a pilot programme. The divisions of DMR South Central, Cork City, Galway and Mayo have been chosen for this pilot in order to provide a mix of urban and rural policing environments.
The new model is expected to free up an estimated 10 Gardaí per Division from administrative duties for redeployment to the front-line – an estimated 250 in total when national rollout is complete.
Implementation of both the pilot programme and the subsequent national rollout is being monitored by the Policing Authority as part of their oversight of the implementation of the recommendations of Changing Policing in Ireland by An Garda Síochána. The Authority are reporting progress to the Minister on a quarterly basis and the first and second reports can be read online now. Subsequent reports will also be published online.