A NEW garda shift system which ensures more officers patrol the streets at night and on weekends will be rolled out later this month.
The system follows months of negotiations between unions and Garda management and will result in an overhaul in the current 'three relief' structure.
Gardai at present follow a rigid system with three separate shifts -- early, late and night. An equal number of gardai are on duty during each separate shift.
This has been blamed for the force being overwhelmed at busier periods -- such as at night and during weekends.
Forces across the world have introduced a system of overlapping shifts with more gardai on duty at busier times.
This system, due to start on April 30, will be discussed at this week's conferences of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors and the Garda Representative Association.
The leadership of the unions have agreed to the pilot scheme, despite reservations.
Gardai have argued that the greater level of crime and reported incidents at weekends warrants extra officers on duty to respond.
The new structure will involve a series of overlapping shifts -- which will vary day-to-day.
Crucially, two shifts will operate in tandem during the busiest periods -- putting more gardai at work in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford.