The most recent available figure for the number of civilians working in An Garda Síochána is for 31 May 2017, at which point there were 2,110 civilian staff members working throughout the organisation carrying out senior management, administrative and technical roles.
As part of its Five Year Reform and High-level Workforce Plan for An Garda Síochána, the Government has agreed an overall vision for a Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 to include 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Garda Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. This very substantial investment in personnel is driven by our commitment to ensure all citizens have the reassurance of a visible, responsive and effective policing service. The projected number of 4,000 civilians will effectively double the current figure and represents a medium-term target of a Garda organisation 20% comprised of civilians. That will bring An Garda Síochána, currently 14% comprised of civilians, more in line with international norms and ensure that trained Gardaí are not engaging in administrative and technical duties which could be done by suitably qualified civilian staff.
The 20% target will be achieved through a twin-track approach of, firstly, a “civilian by default” policy to be adopted in relation to the filling of all new posts other than operational policing posts and for non-operational policing posts that become vacant and, secondly, the redeployment of Gardaí and backfilling by suitably qualified civilians where necessary. In its 'Changing Policing in Ireland' report, the Garda Inspectorate has estimated that there may be up to 1,500 Gardaí currently in such posts and the Government’s plan aims to return as many of these Gardaí as possible to front-line duties over the next five years. With this in mind, the Garda Commissioner, in conjunction with the Policing Authority, has been requested to identify posts suitable for redeployment and to prepare a 5 year plan for reaching the 20% medium term target.
Funding for the recruitment of up to 500 civilians has been provided in Budget 2017 to facilitate the Commissioner in addressing capacity and critical skills gaps across the organisation including in corporate supports, change management, human resources and financial management at the national, regional and Divisional level. These appointments are intended to facilitate deeper civilianisation in the coming years.
To date, the Policing Authority (with the consent of the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform) has approved 137 of these positions including two new senior posts of Executive Director Strategy and Change Management and Executive Director Legal and Compliance. The Government has also agreed in principle to the positions of a Chief Information Officer. The majority of the positions sanctioned are in the areas of ICT, Human Resources, Governance and Strategy, Legal and Compliance, and Finance. 43 of the initial 137 sanctioned posts will go towards back filling vacancies created by the redeployment of Garda members to policing duties. Garda management has indicated that some 163 of the total 500 civilians to be recruited this year will lead to redeployment opportunities. This level of commitment in the first year is very welcome and it is expected that the quantum of redeployments will increase in 2018 and beyond.
The Garda Commissioner has statutory responsibility for recruitment and is working with the Public Appointments Service to fill these sanctioned posts. In addition there is ongoing engagement in accordance with the statutory framework between Garda management, the Policing Authority, my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to sanctioning further posts to meet identified business needs across the organisation and draw down the funding that is available for up to 500 additional civilians this year.
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources. I am informed by the Commissioner that in regard to the deployment of Garda personnel, a distribution model is used which takes into account all relevant factors including population, crime trends and the policing needs of each individual Garda Division. It is the responsibility of the Divisional Officer to allocate personnel within his/her Division.