Report finds An Garda Síochána lacking efficiency in many areas
Around 1,500 extra gardai could be put on the beat if the force made the best use of civilian officers, according to a new report from the Garda Inspectorate.
The report says that far too many gardai are desk based, in jobs that could be done by civilian workers.
The Garda Inspectorate report, Changing Policing in Ireland, is highly critical of structures within An Garda Siochána - saying that in some areas we're 30 years behind the UK for best policing practices.
It recommends a streamlining of management structures within the force which could free up 250 gardai to hit the beat in a matter of days.
Deputy Chief Inspector with the Garda Inspectorate Mark Toland says most of the 81 recommendations won't cost a cent to implement.
"There are 900 civilian support members attached to regions, districts and divisions. What we're saying is bring them all together.
"I think that would free up 250 people without hiring any additional civilian staff," Mr Toland said.
He added that there's somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 desk based gardai in total that could be made free for field work if more civilians were hired into the force.
They want to see one civilian hired for every three gardai in coming recruitment drives - arguing that they are quicker to train and can free gardai who are currently desk based for immediate field work.
The report is also critical of the lack of community gardai, who are primarily Dublin based.
There are just 540 community gardai out of a total force of 12,800 - with none in either Mayo or Kildare.
The lack of a cyber crime unit within An Garda Síochaná was also raised - with the inspectorate revealing that there is a four year backlog in the analysis of computers involved in some cases.
This has led to cases being thrown out of court and can be linked with cases of indecent assault and child sexual abuse.
Inspector Toland said there needs
"If a computer is seized in Kerry today and they need to bring it in to be properly examined, they need to drive it to Dublin and pick it up again when it's been examined. We're recommending that some of those compute crime investigation resources are out in the regions."
In a statement responding to the report the Association of Garda Sergeants & Inspectors (AGSI), said they were pleased to see some of their recommendations from May 2014 taken on board, including a call for a greater emphasis on front line policing.
“The AGSI is pleased that many of the recommendations made in our submission to the Garda Inspectorate in May 2014 in respect of reforming the Garda organisation have been taken on board,” a statement said.
“We are particularly pleased to see specific recommendations regarding the top-heavy Garda Management structure along with a greater emphasis on community and front line policing,” they added.