Student garda training on hold
THERE will be no student gardai in training after next week.
The last group of 126 graduates will leave the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary, on Thursday.
And due to the moratorium on recruitment, there is no indication when any further new students will begin, meaning the recruit gardai who graduate next week will be the final batch for at least two years.
And fears that experienced officers will leave the force in the coming months have been heightened by a new recruitment campaign targeting the gardai.
The PSNI has launched a campaign designed to attract senior officers from the gardai and police forces in Britain to fill posts in Northern Ireland.
The clearout in Templemore is expected to result in a redeployment of some training officers and other staff from the college to operational duties elsewhere in the country.
The college will be dependant on in-service and pre-retirement courses to provide work for the rest of the full-time personnel.
The overall force stands at more than 14,000 and the Government aims to reduce it to 13,000 by 2014.
Over the past few years, the average loss of personnel per annum has been around 400 but this is expected to rise substantially this year as officers opt to retire early.
Many were reluctant to leave the force because of the shortage of jobs elsewhere.
But the PSNI is now seeking 40 experienced officers.
The PSNI's senior director of human resources, Joe Stewart, said: "We're particularly interested in detectives, financial investigators and those who have experience in investigating serious sexual crimes."
He said they wanted people with plenty of experience, who could be trained and be available for duty within about five weeks of joining the PSNI.
The offer is certain to receive a positive hearing on this side of the Border, with about 100 of the 160 garda superintendents having completed 30 years' service and eligible to retire on full pension.
Last month, the Irish Independent revealed that about one-fifth of them were already expected to leave by the end of the year and the PSNI offer is likely to boost this.
Financing of the recruitment campaign is being provided by an additional €245m given to the PSNI earlier this year to help the force combat the security threat posed by dissident republicans.
Advertising for the posts will begin early next month and it is expected that successful candidates could sign up for the PSNI before the end of the year.
But the chairman of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland, Terry Spence, said while the move was welcome, it was "the tip of the iceberg for us".
He said the PSNI needed at least an additional 1,000 officers on the ground to effectively meet the terrorist threat and to provide a proper policing service in the North. The recruitment of new trainee officers there has been frozen.