Policing plan watered down ‘cull’ of senior gardaí

The threatened “mass cull” of local senior gardaí under a new policing model has been watered down with less than half the number originally earmarked for departure now expected to go.
Policing plan watered down ‘cull’ of senior gardaí

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris addresses a meeting of the policing authority in Dublin Castle. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris addresses a meeting of the policing authority in Dublin Castle. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The threatened “mass cull” of local senior gardaí under a new policing model has been watered down with less than half the number originally earmarked for departure now expected to go.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has announced details of the phased roll-out of the new Operating Model, which involves a reduction in divisions, from 28 to 19, and an internal restructuring in all divisions.

Superintendents will no longer be in charge of districts within divisions, but responsible for specific functions (Crime, Community Engagement or Governance) across the whole division.

When the model was revealed last August, staff associations feared a “mass cull” saying it could mean the loss of between 20-30 superintendents and nine chief superintendents.

Reacting to concerns from the senior officers, Commissioner Harris asked chief superintendents for a “business case” to keep more superintendents.

A Garda HQ statement said the total of divisional superintendents would now drop from 104 to 93.

“Following a review based on operational requirements including the submission of business cases from local management, a total of 93 superintendent positions have been allocated across the divisions,” it said.

“This is a further 17 superintendent positions from original projections.”

In addition, 19 principal officers have been appointed, with the purpose of taking all the administrative, finance and HR work away from the superintendents.

The statement said implementation of the model will be over four phases:

  • Phase one has already begun in five divisions – Galway; Cork City; DMR South Central; Limerick and Westmeath/Meath.
  • Phase two will involve Clare/Tipperary; Kerry; County Cork; DMR East, and DMR South (commencing April);
  • Phase three will involve Waterford/Kilkenny/Carlow; Laois/Offaly/Kildare; DMR West; Wexford/Wicklow, and DMR North Central (starting June);
  • Phase four will involve Donegal/Sligo/Leitrim; Louth/Cavan/Monaghan; DMR North; and Mayo/Roscommon/Longford (commencing October)

Garda HQ said that between now and the end of 2021 there will be a net increase of around 600 gardaí, bringing garda numbers to 15,000, and that more than 800 gardaí will be deployed to the frontline.

Commissioner Harris said: “These changes will see us deliver a more responsive, more efficient and better service to local communities.

“It will mean increased numbers of gardaí working on the frontline, better investigations of crimes against the vulnerable such as sexual crime, and community policing teams dedicated to working with communities to identify and tackle problem crimes in their area.

“Today’s announcements demonstrates the good progress we have made and plan to make over the coming months in implementing the model. The quicker we can make these changes at Divisional level, the quicker we can deliver these improvements to communities.”

The Policing Authority welcomed the announcement and the timeline.

“The Authority is pleased by the pace of the implementation of the new Operating Model since it was announced last August,” it said.

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