THE new Garda Operating Model is set to be implemented in the enlarged Waterford-Kilkenny-Carlow Division within the next six to seven months according to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.
Addressing the Waterford Joint Policing Committee in City Hall on Monday, March 2, Commissioner Harris said that while the official commencement date= “will be nailed down further but I would say it’s going to be late summer/early autumn.”
“We will seek to minimise disruption to the community and what’s changing is that the headquarters for the new division will be here in Waterford. There’ll be additional Inspectors, Sergeants and Gardaí allocated to the new division. We want to redeploy further personnel to front line duties,” he continued.
The Commissioner said the Chief Superintendent would remain in Waterford, which will have a wider geographic responsibility.
“We want to maintain our focus on community policing with an emphasis on keeping people safe and a proactive focus on local community policing and a stronger relationship with the community and the Joint Policing Committee.”
The new Operating Model is being implemented on a phased basis, with the Cork City, Dublin South Central, Galway, Limerick and Meath/Westmeath divisions in the initial wave. According to the presentation issued at last week’s JPC, “learnings from these divisions will inform subsequent phases”.
Said Commissioner Harris: “Part of the rationale is obviously combining with an area where there’s a natural complement of work in terms of warrants, summonses, court prosecutions, history of relationship between the two divisions and how well we think then those will mesh together. The Divisional Headquarters rationale is about also having a spread of these regional divisional headquarters (the Eastern Regional HQ will remain in Kilkenny). The accommodation in Waterford and the availability of personnel in Waterford was also advantageous (in determining that the Divisional HQ remained in Waterford) and plus then the size and location of Waterford city itself and all that is planned for the city in the coming years.”
Commissioner Harris said that the new division will have “three geographically dispersed community engagement functional areas, each of them headed up by a Superintendent who will be responsible for proactive community engagement, volume crime, victim support and general operational policing”.
Administration is to be taken away from such Superintendents, while an Assistant Principal will be appointed for administration “as well as a specific Superintendent looking towards governance and accountability performance within a division”.
This brief will encompass dealing with GSOC complaints, discipline files, risk management and performance management. In addition to the provision of Superintendents in each of the division’s three counties, a fifth Superintendent will be assigned to crime.
However, it remains unclear if one of the new Superintendents will be ensconced in Tramore for John Mulligan, who is on the brink of retirement.
Commissioner Harris said the force is not at its highest point in sworn in member terms since 2010 with more skilled Garda staff being “reassigned to the front line”.
“We wish to remove non-core policing duties from An Garda Síochána. We still undertake a lot of functions which, over history, have built up and we wish to shed those so that we concentrate properly on what we’re trained to do which is the prevention and detection of crime and working with the community”.
He added: “Already we have seen 14 Gardaí deployed from various administrative positions in Waterford Division and we wish to build on that in the forthcoming year.”