Call for more spend on community policing under Garda reforms

Call for more spend on community policing under Garda reforms

Up to 65% of resources going to garda divisions under the new policing revamp should be spent on community policing, a top-level garda summit has heard.

Commissioner Drew Harris called urgent meetings with his senior managers today after publishing his plan on the restructuring of the organisation last Thursday.

It sees the creation of 19 “mini police services” across the country, down from 28 divisions. The divisions will be broken down in three main policing functions: community engagement, crime investigation and performance/governance.

The new model is supposed to see chief superintendents operationally autonomous, including in the allocation of resources.

It emerged at today's meetings that chief superintendents will be given guidelines for the breakdown of that funding, with some 55-65% going on community engagement, 10-20% on crime investigation and 10-20% on road policing.

It also emerged that road policing is due to be located within community engagement, after it was not stated in the last week's plan where it would go. This omission prompted the Road Safety Authority to express serious concern at the “downgrading” of road policing.

The Garda Senior Leadership Team is expected to consider a detailed 'technical document' on the plan, which is currently in draft form and running to hundreds of pages, at their meeting in September.

It emerged that the three new regions being created, from the old five, have their assistant commissioners, though this had not been officially confirmed.

Assistant Commissioner Barry O'Brien takes over the North Western Region (stretching from Mayo to Louth), Assistant Commissioner Mick Finn takes over the Eastern Region (running from Meath to Waterford), while Assistant Commissioner Ann-Marie McMahon assumes the Southern Region (stretching from Kerry to Tipperary).

It is thought the assistant commissioners will have a key role in deciding the very contentious issue of where the divisional headquarters will be for each of the divisions being merged (18 down to nine).

Some of the nine divisional chiefs no longer required could get appointed as a chief attached to the regional office, with other possible options arising at national level. The surplus 20-30 superintendents may also be able to get new roles with national units.

While there is dissatisfaction with a lack of consultation at the new plan, and a lack of detail, some commanders thought the meetings were positive and of benefit. There is a belief that more detail would come, or needed to come.

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