Commissioner says 1,200 Gardaí have left force since 2009

Callinan tells Public Accounts Committee civilians cannot be used for sensitive tasks

Screengrab of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee this morning.

Screengrab of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee this morning.


Conor Lally, Crime Correspondent

The strength of the Garda force has fallen to 13,330, with more than 1,200 members having retired since the public sector recruitment moratorium was introduced, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has said.

He also suggested a 12 per cent drop in issue some categories of penalty points last year may at least in part be attributable to fewer gardai in the force.

He told the Public Accounts Committee while there were now 2,052 civilian staff working for An Garda Siochana, giving a Garda to civilian staff ratio of 1:6.5. He added a commitment to increase their number had been impacted by the recruitment moratorium in the public service since the onset of recession.

Mr Callinan also told the committee the Garda to civilian staff ratio may not rise as high as international levels. He cited the sensitive work done by the force not performed by other policing organisations as mitigating against drafting in larrge numbers of civilians.

“It must be borne in mind that An Garda Síochána performs security, intelligence and immigration functions that are not performed by many of our comparator police organisations,” he said.

“These additional mandates have an impact on the civilian-garda ratio. I would very much like to see recruitment starting again and as soon as possible.”

News that the full strength of the force has fallen to 13,330 with 1,218 members retitring since the end of 2009 will likely put more pressure on Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to begin recruitment again. Mr Shatter pledged earlier this year to being recruitment soon to prevent the numbers falling below 13,000 but when the Croke Park extension deal was not accepted he said those recruitment plans were no longer possible.

Mr Callinan said a fall in property-related crime, including burglaries, witnessed in the second half of last year had continued into 2013.

He said a drop of 12 per cent last year in fixed charge notices for out of date tax on cars was significant and said a number of factors may have influenced that including Garda Traffic Corps numbers reducing, fewer vehicles on the road generally or great compliance.

The comptroller and auditor general in his brief opening remarks to the committee said that random checks of vehicles on the road showed some five per cent were not taxed. This equated to an estimated 125,000 vehicles on the roadnationally not being tax, with a related loss of revenue of €50 million in 2010 and 2011.

Mr Callinan was due to be questioned on a variety of issues by members of the committee throughout this morning.