Garda representative body quiet on plans to boost power of Garda reserves

Garda representative body quiet on plans to boost power of Garda reserves

Recruitment to the Garda Reserve has been paused since the end of 2018 following a recommendation of the Commission on the Future of Policing, which called for a major review of it. File photo: Brian Gavin

The largest garda staff body has declined to comment on plans by Garda HQ to examine giving trained volunteers in the Garda Reserve the authority to operate independently.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) said the reservists were not members of their association and that it did not want to comment at this time.

The Irish Examiner understands there are different views within the governing Central Executive Committee of the GRA and that, in addition, other issues are concentrating minds, with weeks to go before their annual conference in Kerry.

While some leaders still have issues with the reserve others don’t want the GRA to be seen as automatically opposed to the new proposals without first discussing them with management.

The proposals are contained in the Garda Reserve Strategy 2021-2025, details of which were published in the Irish Examiner on Monday.

Recruitment to the Garda Reserve has been paused since the end of 2018 following a recommendation of the Commission on the Future of Policing, which called for a major review of it.

Government plans had been to increase the size of the body to 2,000 by 2021. Garda Reserve numbers stood at 953 in 2015, though sources said many were not available to work. The number fell to 589 by 2017 and currently stands at 447.

The report said current policy states that all duties by part-time reserve gardaí “must be” in the company of a full-time garda and that “no reserve garda can perform independent patrolling”.

The strategy proposes to undertake an examination of the requirements for independent patrolling.

"A review of the powers available to and the duties performed by reserve gardaí will be undertaken to ensure they are adequately equipped for independent patrolling," it said.

"A review of the current policy will scope the development of national policy and governance structures to enable independent patrolling and duty at events."

The strategy also outlines a training programme for reservists over five phases and the allocation of a full-time garda to provide support and advice.

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