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*Photograph: Martin Connolly

Clare’s merger with the Tipperary Garda Division is expected to commence next month.

On Wednesday, An Garda Síochána announced the phased introduction of the Garda Operating Model in each of its nineteen Divisions throughout 2020 plus the allocation of Superintendents to each Division.

As part of this, Division will increase in size and will be “operationally autonomous”. “The Garda Operating Model will see more front-line Gardaí, a stronger focus on community policing, and a wide-range of policing services delivered locally,” a spokesperson outlined.

Garda numbers are expected to rise to 15,000 by the end of 2021 with more than 800 Gardaí to be deployed to the front-line. 640 officers have already changed from administrative roles to the front-line.

Included in the second phase of the Garda Operating Model is the amalgamation of the Clare and Tipperary Garda Divisions. This is anticipated to begin in April. Superintendents will be in locations throughout Divisions and not just based in the Divisional HQ which is Ennis.

Before changes are made at a Divisional level, change impact assessments will be conducted at a local level to ascertain what needs to be done to enable implementation. Under the Operating Model, each Division will for the first time have a Superintendent dedicated to Crime, a Superintendent dedicated to Governance and Performance Assurance, and a number of Superintendents in charge of Community Engagement.

An Assistant Principal, which is the grade equivalent of a Superintendent, will also be appointed in each Division to head up Business Services, which covers areas such as HR, Finance and Administration. This will free-up Superintendents from administrative tasks so they can focus on policing activity. Seven of the 19 Assistant Principals are already in situ in their respective Divisions. The remainder have either been selected or the selection process is underway.

Following a review based on operational requirements including the submission of business cases from local management, a total of 93 Superintendent positions have been allocated across the Divisions. This is a further 17 Superintendent positions from original projections. The total number of Divisional Superintendents will go from 104 to 93.

Under the Operating Model, there will be a significant increase in the allocation of Sergeants and Inspectors to Divisions, particularly in the area of community policing.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said: “These changes will see us deliver a more responsive, more efficient and better service to local communities. It will mean increased numbers of Gardaí working on the frontline, better investigations of crimes against the vulnerable such as sexual crime, and community policing teams dedicated to working with communities to identify and tackle problem crimes in their area.

Under the Garda Operating Model, a Division will be typically made up of around 600 to 800 personnel. This will ensure each Division has the resources and skills to deliver a wider range of community policing and specialist services based on the demand in their area.

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