A career with the Gardaí is “simply not attractive” to young people anymore, according to the AGSI.
It comes after it emerged that almost one-quarter of Ireland’s Garda stations have seen a fall in the number of officers on duty over the last year.
The Irish Independent reports that 133 of the country’s 560 Garda stations have seen a drop in numbers in the last 12 months.
Meanwhile, 42 stations around the country no longer have a permanent Garda attached to them.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, AGSI (Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors) Deputy General Secretary Ronan Clougher said the force is having big problems finding new members.
“Recruitment is a big issue,” he said. “You know, the numbers in Templemore have been very low in the last number of years and COVID is a big issue.
“The reality is that the Gardaí are finding it difficult to attract young people into the force at the moment.”
He said the level of pay on offer is an issue – but there are other problems as well.
“An Garda Síochána is simply not attractive to young people now,” he said.
“There is a serious problem with pensions […] social media is another big issue as well.
“Young people are seeing Gardaí having mobile phones put in their faces all over social media and seeing assaults on Gardaí. Young people are seeing these pictures and saying, ‘no that’s not for me.’”
He also suggested Gardaí are now burdened with “excessive oversight”.
“There is an excessive administration burden on Gardaí and Gardaí are spending more time on administration duties than actually out on the street policing,” he said.
Mr Clogher said morale is now so low that many Gardaí no longer recommend a career in the force to others.
“Traditionally, the Guards would always recommend a career in An Garda Síochána to young people but I think that is changing now,” he said.
“That just reflects the reality and feeling on the ground among the membership at the moment.”
Asked what could be done to improve the situation for Gardaí, Mr Clogher said: “I think the introduction of body-worn cameras and mandatory sentencing for assaults on Gardaí should be a high priority and would go some way towards improving things.”
Rural Garda stations
Mr Clogher said the establishment of specialised units to tackle things like domestic violence and cybercrime has also pulled members out of Garda stations around the country.
The AGSI Deputy General said the Garda stations operating without permanent members attached to them is a problem the AGSI has been highlighting for “quite some time”.
He said it goes back to the introduction of the new Garda Operating Model, which moved the force away from the old district system and centralised resources.
“It drags resources, particularly in rural areas, into centralised locations which means sometimes that rural garda stations, particularly one-man garda stations as they are known, are left unmanned at times,” he said.
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