Garda staffing levels drop as 370 leave force

Staffing levels at Garda stations around the country decreased by 3% last year as 370 officers left the force.

New figures published by the Department of Justice show the number of gardaí attached to stations totalled 11,569 at the end of 2012.

A further 20 gardaí left the force in January, leaving manpower levels at 11,549.

The current figure represents a 7.3% reduction in staff numbers, or 916 personnel, since the peak level of 12,465 reached in 2009.

The figures exclude officers attached to various national Garda units and staff working at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park.

A breakdown of staffing levels shows all 28 divisions have suffered reductions since they were at peak strength during 2008-2010.

Divisions in Cork City, Cork North, Kildare and Galway recorded the smallest decreases in personnel in recent years, averaging reductions of 2%-3%.

Among the divisions suffering the sharpest reductions were Cavan/Monaghan (-17%), Laois/Offaly (-14%) and Kerry, Donegal and Clare (all -13%).

The Dublin Metropolitan Region’s Eastern Division saw its number of gardaí reduced by almost 200 or 32%, although the scale of the reduction is largely explained by a realignment of divisions a few years ago.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter acknowledged that Garda numbers have been falling due to the moratorium on recruitment.

In reply to a Dáil question, Mr Shatter said Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had responsibility for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel.

The minister said the location of personnel was constantly monitored in the context of demographics, crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a district, divisional and regional level to ensure optimum use of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. He stressed that each district headquarters provided a 24- hour policing service to all communities in that district.

“My objective, despite the enormous financial pressures facing the Government, is to ensure that Garda numbers will not fall below 13,000,” said Mr Shatter.

He said he had already informed his cabinet colleagues that he was reviewing Garda staffing levels in light of the anticipated reduction in overall numbers below 13,000 by the end of the year.

The Garda Commissioner has stated that the centralisation of services following the closure of around 100 Garda stations would facilitate the introduction of enhanced patrolling arrangements and increased Garda visibility.

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