This country profile was migrated from the legacy system and the new text is under consideration of the respective government authorities.

Policing overview: “An Garda Siochana” means “Guardians of the Peace” and has been the official name of the National Police of Ireland since 1925.

National Police

1. General information
Uniformed members of the National Police do not carry firearms. In the words of the service’s very first Commissioner, Michael Staines, TD, "The Garda Síochána will succeed, not by force of arms or numbers, but on their moral authority as servants of the people". It is a tradition of the service that standard policing should be carried out in both rural and urban areas by uniformed officers equipped only with a wooden truncheon. When originally created, the force was armed, but the Provisional Government decided to reverse the decision and make it an unarmed police force.

2. Structure and organization
The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is responsible for the performance of the National Police. However, its day-to-day operations are the responsibility of the Government-appointed Commissioner, while the Minister is accountable to the Dáil (the Irish Legislature).

The Commissioner's management team comprises two Deputy Commissioners and ten Assistant Commissioners. The Deputy Commissioners advise on policy matters and have functional responsibility. In descending order from Assistant Commissioner, the National Police hierarchy is as follows: Chief Superintendent, Superintendent, Inspector, Sergeant and Garda.

The National Police consists of the following investigative sections:

  • Garda National Drugs Unit

  • Criminal Assets Bureau

  • Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation

  • National Bureau of Criminal Investigation

  • Special Detective Unit

  • National Immigration Bureau

For policing purposes, the country is divided into six regions, each of which is commanded by a Regional Assistant Commissioner. Their duties are mainly operational and ensure the operational efficiency of the respective regions and, in particular, the quality of management exercised by their respective divisional and district officers.

Each region is divided into divisions, which are, in turn, divided into districts. The basic command unit is the district, and the Superintendent-in-charge is also known as the District Officer. Districts are divided into sub-districts, each usually with only one station, the strength of which may vary from 3 to 100 police officers (“Gardai”). There are 703 stations throughout the country.

3. Staff data
In 2006, the National Police service numbered approximately 12,200, including 1,700 plainclothes detectives and another 1,700 civilian staff providing support services.

4. Education / Training
Candidates for the Irish National Police must successfully complete 58 weeks of training, after which they become probationary police officers for a further two years. Those who successfully complete all components of the two-year programme graduate from the National Police (“Garda”) College with a Diploma in Police Studies. 

The B.A. Degree in Police Management aims to provide Garda officers with a higher education course. The current two-year Education, Training and Development Programme, introduced in 1989, is a competency-based course of study consisting of five separate but integrated phases that are conducted both at the National Police College and at designated National Police training stations throughout the country.

5. Oversight
The Garda Inspectorate consists of three members who have been appointed by the Irish Government. The functions of the Inspectorate, inter alia, are to:

  • carry out inspections or inquiries in relation to particular aspects of the operation and administration of the National Police (Garda Síochána);

  • submit to the Minister a report on those inspections or inquiries, and, if required, also a report on the operation, administration and/or any significant developments of the National Police during a specified period; such reports contain recommendations for actions the Inspectorate considers necessary; and

  • provide advice to the Minister with regard to best policing practices.

The Garda Ombudsman Commission replaces the former Garda Siochana Complaints Board and is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2006, empowered to:

  • directly and independently investigate complaints against members of the National Police;

  • investigate any matter, even when no complaint has been made, in which it appears that a police officer (Garda) may have committed an offence or behaved in a way that would justify disciplinary proceedings;

  • investigate any practice, policy or procedure of the National Police with a view to reducing the incidence of related complaints.

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