Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Department of Justice and Equality
The "Programme for a Partnership Government" includes a commitment to double the Garda Reserve to act in a supportive role undertaking local patrols and crime reduction measures. Reserve members have undergone training in many of the skills required to be an effective full-time member of An Garda Síochána and it is important that we build on the very real contribution that they are making to the policing of communities right across the country.
I have spoken to the Garda Commissioner in relation to the delivery of this commitment and what steps might be taken to ensure that the expanded Reserve is used to best effect in support of visible policing. In this regard, I welcome the recent assignment by the Commissioner of a Superintendent to head up the Garda Reserve Management Office. I understand that that Office is currently undertaking an audit of the experience and skills of Reserves which, when completed, will assist Garda management in considering the future role to be played by the Reserve. It has also started work on the development of a recruitment plan with the objective of recruiting and training 300 new Reserves annually, starting next year, to bring the strength of the Reserve up from its current strength of 789 members to 2,000. As part of the planning process, I understand that the Office is examining the possibility of recruitment at the regional or divisional level, rather than centrally, and also the manner in which the training is delivered.
The expansion of the Reserve will complement the commitments in the Programme for Government to continue the ongoing accelerated Garda recruitment programme with a view to increasing Garda numbers to 15,000 and also to increase further civilianisation to free up Gardaí to front-line policing duties. The delivery of these measures over the lifetime of the Government will ensure a visible policing presence in communities nationwide. Taking account of projected retirements, reaching a strength of 15,000 will require some 3,200 new Garda members to be recruited on a phased basis over the next four years in addition to the 1,200 that will have been recruited by the end of this year since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014. So far 534 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream uniform duties nationwide. Another 150 will attest later this year.
In order to continue to ensure seamless ongoing recruitment of trainee Gardaí I was very pleased to announce the commencement of a new recruitment campaign on 8 September which includes a special stream for eligible reserve members. The campaign is being organised by the Public Appointments Service on behalf of the Commissioner. Applications must be made through www.publicjobs.ie . The existing recruitment campaign which was launched last November is ongoing and successful candidates will continue to be called from that campaign this year and into next year. It is expected that successful candidates from the new campaign will enter the Garda College from mid-2017.
Specifically in relation to the Waterford Garda Division I am informed by the Commissioner that, as of the 31 August 2016, there were 26 Reserves assigned to that Division. It is, of course the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, and I as Minister, have no direct role in the matter.