Garda Commissioner Drew Harris comments on Garda assaults and Garda recruitment

by Rose Barrett
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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris met yesterday evening with the four garda representative associations at their request on the issues of assaults on gardaí and recruitment. Last weekend saw another assault occur in Ballymun following previous attacks on members of the force in Cherry Orchard and Ballymun.

At the meeting, Commissioner Harris condemned these assaults and outlined that the organisation would be seeking to procure enhanced and additional safety equipment for gardaí, and provide them with further training. 

Commissioner Harris once again outlined his support for the introduction of body cams. 

On the issue of recruitment, Commissioner Harris said that An Garda Síochána had experienced a drop in the number of Gardaí as a result of COVID-19 restrictions on training. 

However, Garda staff numbers have increased by 1,200 in recent years. This has enabled more than 800 Gardaí to be released from administrative roles to operational duties in areas such as tackling street level drug dealing, and preventing and detecting sexual crime and domestic abuse. 

Commissioner Harris stated that in 2023 An Garda Síochána was planning to have classes of approximately 200 Garda students in the Garda College every 11/12 weeks. 

Annual recruitment competitions for Gardaí will also be introduced with the first of these going live in Q1 2023.

In 2022, between retirements (340) and resignations (109), approximately 450 Gardaí left the organisation out of more than 14,000 Gardaí. The number of Gardaí leaving via resignation in 2022 equates to approximately 0.8 per cent of Gardaí.

Any resignation is of concern to the organisation and An Garda Síochána will shortly introduce exit interviews to examine why Gardaí are resigning. 

Commissioner Harris added:

“The safety of gardaí is of utmost importance and concern for An Garda Síochána, myself as Commissioner, and all four Garda Representative Associations.

“Regrettably, already this year we have seen a number of serious assaults on Gardaí.

“While all gardaí accept policing has its risks, there can never be any excuse for these disgraceful attacks. 

“It is not acceptable that a small minority in society – and it is only a small minority – feel that gardaí can be attacked just because they are carrying out their duties. 

“The vast majority of the public have great respect for the work that gardaí do to keep them safe, their professionalism and dedication, and their empathy, particularly when engaging with the most vulnerable in our society. 

“I will continue to ensure we provide gardaí with the equipment they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.

“I have said this before, but I not only want to get to the current target of 15,000 Gardaí, but given population growth, demographic change and the rapidly changing nature of crime, I believe there is a strong case for there to be more than 15,000 Gardaí.”

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