New garda recruits are going to be put on the streets with full policing powers after only 32 weeks – in an attempt to fill the gap left by retirements.
Under the current system, garda recruits are not given full powers until they have completed 58 weeks of training.
But new recruits being taken in next year will be sworn in as gardai after less than two-thirds of the previous training programme in the Garda College in Templemore.
They will then be assigned to serve in stations for 65 weeks to complete their training.
And they will return to Templemore for a further seven weeks to prepare for their final exam for a diploma in police studies.
It means that garda management will be able to use recruits to fill the gaps in their ranks left by the retirements of gardai.
Under the current system, they would have had to wait more than a year before the recruits had full police powers.
The first students are expected to enter the Garda College in the middle of next year. There have already been 30,000 applications from people hoping to be selected to train as gardai.
In the Dail, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said yesterday that gardai had prepared a new training programme for recruits, which was "radically different".
"The new programme focuses on operational policing and real-life scenarios which will prepare students better for the challenges they face," he said.
The new three-phase training programme will last for 104 weeks – compared to the current 100-week five-phase training programme.
However, Mr Shatter said the number of recruits would depend on the retirement rate and the availability of funds to pay for them.
Mr Shatter admitted that the number of gardai – which currently stands at around 13,350 – could fall below the accepted minimum level of 13,000 next year due to retirements.