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Garda ranks grow to largest number in force’s history

Garda personnel numbers reached their highest in the history of the State last year, according to the force’s annual report published on Tuesday morning.

During 2019 gardaí seized more than €21 million in drugs, enjoyed the trust of more than 90 per cent of the public and prevented attacks on the peace of the State from dissident groups.

The highlights of the report laid before the Houses of Oireachtas include:

  • The force grew to include a total of 14,307 personnel, a “working-time equivalent” of 17,709.9.
  • The highest trust level in An Garda Síochána in the last five years was recorded under a public attitudes survey taken in quarter three.
  • The force began a roll-out of mobility devices to frontline members.
  • Numbers in sergeant and inspector ranks increased, with 125 promotions to inspector and 169 promotions to sergeant.
  • More than 340 gardaí were reassigned to frontline duties.

The report noted the beginning of the new “Garda operating model”, geared towards larger Garda divisions with more resources, a wider range of locally-delivered policing services and a strong focus on community policing.

In its role as the State’s intelligence service, the Garda made a number of seizures of weaponry which the report said “degraded the capability of dissident groups”.

The force also published its 2019-2021 diversity and integration strategy, focused on enhancing the identification, reporting, investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. It also included for the first time a policing definition of hate crime.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said: “The dedication and determination of Garda personnel to keeping people safe is evident throughout this report. From significant drug seizures, ongoing reductions in burglaries, crime-prevention initiatives and daily community engagement.

“The results of this can be seen in the 2019 Garda public attitudes survey. It found high levels of satisfaction with the service we provide and public trust of over 90 per cent.”

The report was approved by the Policing Authority and has been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

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