A RADICAL overhaul of training for new members of the force will put more gardai out on to the streets more quickly.
The main aim of the training revamp is to provide young gardai with greater operational experience by spending more time allocated to garda stations than in the lecture halls of the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary.
A total of 94 new members of the Garda Reserve graduated yesterday. They included three Polish, two Latvians, one Lithuanian, one Chinese and one Italian. They bring the overall strength to 665, including 100 in training, and it is planned to recruit up to another 250 members this year.
The head of the college, Chief Supt Jack Nolan, who acted as secretary to a training review group, said yesterday he hoped the changes would be implemented whenever a new recruitment campaign was approved by the Government.
The programme for students and probationers will be restructured into three phases instead of the current five. The first phase, which involves initial training at the college, will be 32 weeks instead of the existing 58. At the end of this phase, the successful students become attested, which means they become members of the force with full policing powers. They will then be deployed in garda stations and become involved in operational work, under the supervision of newly assigned field training tutors.
This 65-week phase will be followed by a seven weeks of exam preparation, exams and assessments. Chief Supt Nolan said the overall training would not be reduced from two years but would focus more on policing rather than classrooms. The revamped programme will contain greater emphasis on training in firearms, driving, swimming and psychological assessments, with new facilities including a mock urban structure to be developed at Dromard House in Tipperary.