THE Cork City Garda Division is implementing a new manning system that aims to free up Gardaí from behind their desks.
The new structure has been welcomed by Cork city's Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin, who called it “the future.”
The new model of management will see civilians being hired to carry out a range of functions.
“In most districts, Gardaí are performing functions that could be adequately completed by civilians,” Chief Supt McPolin said.
“We have identified a number of positions currently done by gardaí that can be done adequately by civilians, such as financial matters, general administration and there are scores of other areas being targeted.”
The Chief Superintendent outlined the aim of the new management scheme.
“The bottom line is to further improve service to the public and have a greater presence of garda on the ground.
“The new system is part of the modernisation and renewal programme that the force is currently undergoing and the Cork City Division was chosen as one of four areas in this pilot programme."
The system is called a hybrid model of functional policing and it is being introduced in Galway, Mayo, Dublin South Central and Cork.
Chief Supt McPolin said up until now the Gardaí have been operating a traditional hierarchical model that involves a downward chain of command from Chief Superintendent, Superintendent, Inspector, Garda and Detective across four districts which make up the Cork City Division: Gurranabraher, Anglesea, Togher, Mayfield.
In this model, the Superintendent would be in charge of strategy, operations, planning and general running of district.
However, in the hybrid model of functional policing, management will centre on five pillars of functionality with one Superintendent looking after each pillar across the entire Cork City Division.
The five pillars are: crime investigation, governance and strategy, courts and file management, administrative functions and frontline policing.
Chief Superintendent McPolin said the new system was born from examining other management systems in the UK and the North.
“We examined how they operate and we are now adopting a more scientific approach. We are changing how we do business.”
According to Chief Superintendent McPolin, the pilot programme hopes to achieve three things: make management more efficient, create greater visibility on the ground and allow for greater interaction with the public.
He said the model is still in design and analysis mode.
“It is an exploratory phase. We will be engaging and consulting with the community in the near future.
“It is all part of the process, there will be meetings at local, divisional and district level," he said.
Overseeing the transition from old to new is a tough task, and it will take a number of years, but Chief Superintendent McPolin said he would prefer to do things properly over time rather than rush it through.
"The implementation of a functional policing model will take a number of years. It is being brought in in a strategic fashion, incrementally and properly.”
Although the process will take time, the Chief Superintendent said a number of functions have already been centralised and significant advancements will take place in the next six months.
“We have a number of division units set up including the Protective Services Unit, the Traffic Core and the Computer Crime Unit.
“These units encompass the four districts.
“This is a major step for us. It is a challenging time for us, but it is also a time to show Cork as a model of best practice “We have a lot done, but more to do.”