Coronavirus: Garda recruits to be deployed after just one week in Templemore
Changes in training programme to allow more gardaí on the frontline during crisis
The next class of Garda recruits is due to begin training later this month under the vastly reworked syllabus, ‘a blend of online learning, experiential learning and on-site learning in the Garda College’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
The changes mean recruits will undertake most of their education from their homes on an e-learning platform before gaining practical experience in frontline policing.
This will minimise the risk of infection spreading in the training college and allow the Garda to put more bodies on the frontline in a short period of time.
It will also mean students will deploy to stations with little or no practical training. However, these students will not typically deploy on the streets and will not be able to perform arrests.
The next class of Garda recruits is due to begin training as planned later this month under the vastly reworked syllabus.
The programme for the BA in applied policing, the foundation programme for Garda trainees, will start on May 25th with three weeks of “self-directed e-learning lessons”, complemented by daily online tutorial sessions from lecturers.
These courses will be done from the recruits’ homes using their own laptops or tablets.
Recruits will not enter Templemore until June 15th. They will remain there for one week before deploying to a Garda station where they will undergo on-the-job training and will aid in the force’s response to the pandemic.
They will remain in a station for “a minimum of 12 weeks” before returning to Templemore for a further 16 weeks’ residential training.
It is understood recruits may spend even longer in Garda stations if the health crisis warrants it.
The details of the new course are contained in correspondence sent out to new recruits due to start this month.
“An Garda Síochána, as an essential service, will continue its recruitment programme in 2020 in line with Government public announcements,” a Garda spokesman said.
The programme “has had to be transformed and will include a blend of online learning, experiential learning and on-site learning in the Garda College, when safe to do so in line with public health guidelines prevailing at that time,” it said.
“The blended programme will comply with public health guidelines and current standards and quality assurance in place.”
The Garda said it will use its “well-established” e-learning platform, the Garda learning management system (LMS), for the online component.
The spokesman said the Garda “remains committed to recruiting and training the very best persons to the highest standards”.
Under the previous programme, recruits spent 34 weeks in Templemore before deploying to a Garda station for the rest of their training.
However, when the Covid-19 crisis started to take hold in March, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris ordered the 319 recruits in Templemore at the time to deploy immediately to Garda stations around the country, at a stage when some of them had just five weeks’ training. He said they will return to the college to complete their training at a later date.
Recruits would be assigned duties within Garda stations where they would be mentored by senior members, he said.
Templemore has remained effectively closed since then, and has been used only for limited firearms training. It had been offered to the HSE as a temporary Covid-19 treatment or isolation centre, but it is understood this offer has not yet been taken up. The college’s 124 instructors have been reassigned to frontline policing roles until June.