At least 3,000 gardaí need to be trained to drive a patrol car but the precise number is unknown to Garda management, the Policing Authority has been told.
Assistant Commissioner Dave Sheahan said the Garda force has no system to track exactly how many of its members have been trained or not.
He told a public meeting of the authority on Wednesday that the basic competency based driver (CBD) level needed to be supplied to 342 members of the force.
Another 481 required the next stage of the training, CBD2. However, while Garda Headquarters records showed that 3,000 of its personnel had still not undergone basic training, that was not a complete figure.
Policing Authority chairwoman Josephine Feehily said it was vital that gardaí, who were driving emergency vehicles, should not only be trained but undergo regular refresher training. She believed a very significant "organisational risk" arose if an agency like the Garda offering emergency response had so many members untrained in "blue light" driving.
Mr Sheehan said while large numbers needed training, the capacity within the private sector did not match the Garda’s need.
However, it was currently working on hiring instructors on three-year contracts and hoped to increase the number of gardaí trained to drive a patrol car from 400 at present to 1,500 as early as next year.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris told the authority it was unclear if the record level of sexual crimes being reported to the Garda was due to an increase in that crime or victims now proving more willing to come forward.
He believed it was perhaps a combination of both; a “real increase” in sexual offending in the Republic at the same time as victims had more confidence about making a formal complaint when sexually assaulted.
However, he said data collated by organisations such as the Rape Crisis Centre suggested a murder higher rate of sexual offending in Ireland that was coming to the attention of that the Garda. This, he said, showed many offences were still not being taken to the Garda for investigation.
Mr Harris also warned that far right movement was becoming an issue in Ireland, saying: “We’re not going to be immune from that and we can see evidence of coming onto our shores.”
On the issue of overtime, Mr Harris said there would be €95 million available to the Garda in overtime next year, adding the force’s visibility on the ground should not be dependent on a higher overtime budget.