Described as the most significant structural change in the Garda Síochána since its inception, a new structure for local policing is being rolled out.
Under this model, decision making for policing delivery will be devolved from the centre to the regions and divisions.
Divisions will increase in size, will be operationally autonomous, and will be the key to policing delivery.
A Division will typically be made up of 600 to 800 personnel.
Regions and divisions will have greater control over how policing is delivered, while working to a corporate framework and oversight from the centre. The focus of the centre will be on supporting regions and divisions.
The changes are in line with the recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate, the Government’s 2016 decision to replace the garda district model with a functional or divisional model, and the more recent recommendations from the Commission on the Future of Policing approved by Government last December.
The Policing Authority says the new model represents a clear expression of a vision and direction for the organisation, grounded in the context of its mission.
The Policing Authority has consistently called for these changes.
The Authority received an overview of the new operating model from the Garda Síochána during July with new approaches on capability, processes, structure and governance.
There will be a reduction in the number of regions and divisions with the aim of delivering a more visible and responsive policing service.
The revised structures are also expected to release gardai back to frontline duties and to reduce duplication, bureaucracy and back-office support costs.
The model should also result in an increase in resources and greater autonomy at divisional level, which will make it possible to better respond to the specific needs of the local community.
The operating model outlined is designed to strengthen governance, supervision and accountability structures across the organisation.
The Policing Authority says it will continue to monitor the effectiveness and consistency of the delivery of the changes.
There will be a reduction in administrative structures, the introduction of community policing, more focus on economic crime and cyber-crime and enhanced local investigation of serious crimes.
Since 2017, 2,090 gardaí have been recruited to date and a further 478 have been re-deployed to the frontline.
A further 1,500 will be hired before 2021 and an additional 1,000 re-assigned to the front-ine.
In addition, from 2017 to 2019, 1,070 Garda civilian staff have been recruited and a further 1,265 are expected to recruited by end of 2021.
Commissioner Drew Harris (pictured) said this morning "These changes will deliver a more visible, localised and responsive policing service. What won’t change though is the strong connection we have with local communities.”
This process has already started with the introduction of the new local policing model in four Divisions – Kevin Street, Dublin; Cork city; Galway and Mayo.
It will continue from this Monday, 26 August, with the new regional structure of four regions.
The reduction in Divisions from 28 to 19 will commence on a phased basis and the new structure will be implemented throughout 2020.
Justice minister Charlie Flanagan said the new model is designed to reduce bureaucracy and move real power and decision making from HQ to the chief superintendents leading garda divisions in the communities they serve.
“Importantly, it will also result in more frontline leadership positions with sergeants and inspectors on the ground where leadership, supervision and mentoring is crucial,” he said.