Garda numbers at highest level in force’s history

Force ‘degraded capability of dissident groups’, Garda Síochána annual report notes

Garda numbers reached their highest in the history of the State last year, according to the Garda Síochána annual report published on Tuesday morning.

During 2019 the force seized more than €21 million in drugs, enjoyed the trust of more than 90 per cent of the public and prevented attacks on the peace of the State from weaponised dissident groups.

According to the main points of the review the Garda:

  • Grew to include a total of 14,307 personnel, a "working-time equivalent" of 17,709.9.
  • Enjoyed the highest recorded trust level in An Garda Síochána in the last five years under the public attitudes survey taken in quarter three.
  • Seized €21 million in drugs.
  • Began the roll-out of mobility devices to frontline members.
  • Increased numbers in sergeant and inspector ranks, with 125 promotions to inspector and 169 promotions to sergeant.
  • More than 340 Gardaí reassigned to frontline duties.

The report, which was presented to the Oireachtas, noted the commencement of the new “Garda operating model”. The new model is geared towards larger Garda divisions with more resources, a wider range of locally-delivered policing services and a strong focus on community policing.


Terrorism offences

In its role as Ireland’s intelligence service the Garda made a number of seizures of weaponry which the report said “degraded the capability of dissident groups”. The Garda also secured “convictions for terrorism offences” and made “large-scale preparations for potential terrorist incidents”.

The force also published its 2019-2021 diversity and integration strategy. The strategy focuses on enhancing the identification, reporting, investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. It also included for the first time a policing definition of hate crime.

The Garda responded to:

  • 4,390 higher-risk spontaneous incidents using the Armed Support Unit.
  • Security screening of more than 300 refugees with the aid of the Special Detective Unit operating under the State's refugee resettlement programme.
  • 98 hostage/barricade/suicide-type incidents which were dealt with by Garda negotiators.
  • 11 people successfully convicted before the Special Criminal Court and the higher courts.


Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said: “The dedication and determination of Garda personnel to keeping people safe is evident throughout this report. From significant drug seizures, ongoing reductions in burglaries, crime-prevention initiatives and daily community engagement.

“The results of this can be seen in the 2019 Garda public attitudes survey. It found high levels of satisfaction with the service we provide and public trust of over 90 per cent.”

The report was approved by the Policing Authority and has been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist