Expansion in frontline managers under Garda overhaul, number of inspectors to increase by a third

Maximum permitted number of Garda inspectors is to be increased from 380 to 500.
Expansion in frontline managers under Garda overhaul, number of inspectors to increase by a third
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris launched the overhaul of the Garda structure but it suffered delays due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The maximum permitted number of Garda inspectors is to be increased by almost a third, from 380 to 500.

The significant expansion in the frontline management rank marks a move by the Government to inject momentum into a major overhaul of the Garda structure.

Plans for the phased implementation of the new Garda Operating Model have been stalled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The model, which was launched by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris almost a year ago, involves the biggest ever restructuring of the police force.

It sees the reduction in the number of Garda divisions from 28 to 19, with 18 divisions being merged into nine “super divisions”.

And, in changes affecting all 19 new divisions, the local Garda district will no longer be headed by a superintendent, with senior officers now working across an entire division covering specific areas, such as crime or community engagement.

All the Garda associations have previously expressed varying degrees of concerns at the new plan, with senior local commanders objecting most to the changes.

The Government, the Policing Authority, and the Garda Inspectorate have backed the plan. 

A major part of the restructuring is an expansion in the role and prominence of inspectors in managing expanded local divisions, taking over many of the responsibilities previously held by superintendents under the old district model.

As part of this, the Government announced that it was amending the regulations to increase the maximum permissible number of inspectors from 380 to 500.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: "I am very pleased to announce that the Government has approved my proposal to amend the Garda Ranks Order to allow for the expansion of the number of gardaí at the rank of the inspector. 

"This change is required to support the ongoing rollout of the new Garda Operating Model and the significant increase of responsibilities for the rank of inspector under this new structure.

“The new Garda Operational Model is currently being rolled out nationally. 

At the heart of this new model is the delegation of expanded responsibility for a broad range of tasks to operational Inspectors, and it is proposed that there will be a requirement for 16 to 20 Inspectors for each division.

The minister said the programme for government pledged the rapid implementation of the Policing Commission report, published in September 2018.

She said the operating model was key to implementing the priority of visible policing in the report.

As well as increasing Inspector rank, the minister said the Government also approved amending the Ranks Order by removing the Garda position of 'surgeon', reflecting the effective civilianisation of the post that occurred with the previous appointment of a chief medical officer.

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