More civilians to be taken into the Garda to free up officers for beat duties
A programme to increase civilianisation and free up more gardai to work on the streets got under way today.
An initial batch of 140 recruits are being taken in by the summer and will be deployed to the national specialist units as well as in desk duties.
This will allow an estimated 50 extra gardai to be released from offices and available for policing work among the community.
The move is part of an overall plan to double the number of civilians in the force from the current 2,000 to 4,000 with a target date of 2021.
In the same timeframe the garda authorities are planning to increase garda strength from an existing 12,900 to 15,000 and the reserve force to 2,000.
Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey said the aim was to ensure that "every corner of the country" would benefit from the impact of the extra numbers.
He was speaking during a passing out ceremony for 149 recruits today at the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary.
Mr Twomey said that for the first time since recruitment resumed last year following the five-year ban during the recession the garda strength had increased.
Up to now the fresh intakes were accounting only for the numbers leaving the force annually through retirements and resignations.
But today the strength has increased from 12,800 to 12,900 and it will continue to rise as it is planned to recruit 800 new members a year, compared to around 300 leaving.
The head of the civilian staff, chief administrative officer, Joe Nugent said it was a "great day" for the force with approval to go ahead with the initial intake of 140, followed by another 360 by the end of the year.
He said those appointments meant consequential transfers of fully trained gardai from office duties to deployment on the beat and the impact of this campaign would be felt across the country as the additional civilians were taken in.
Before the ban on public service recruitment was implemented in 2009, the strength of the force stood at 14,500 with another 2,000 civilians.