IT is not yet known if Kildare will lose its district HQ status in the new garda reorganisation, it was learned this week.
“District Superintendents will go,” said Superintendent Oliver Henry of Naas, conceding his own position to the members of the Kildare Joint Policing Committee (JPC) at its meeting on 2 September in Áras Chill Dara.
“The ranking officer will be Chief Superintendent [John] Scanlon in Portlaoise, but we don’t know where the new district headquarters is going yet,” he admitted.
Announced by Chief Commissioner Drew Harris, under the changes, Kildare will amalgamate with the Laois/Offaly district shortly, in the first reduction of the Garda Siochàna’s districts (from 28 to 19) since the formation of the State.
Both Supt Henry and his colleague from Leixlip, Supt Gerry Wall ,were quite frank with the JPC in admitting that there still were quite a few grey areas in the early days of the new plan, however both were politic enough to voice qualified support.
“There is a new policing model. We support change, constructive change to get more [of our] people in the community,” said Supt Wall.
“There are issues, but we’re big enough and bold enough to hold that conversation,” he pointed out.
He explained how one aspect of the plan was to give present responsibilities like HR and fleet management to a civilian executive officer, and free up the expertise of superintendents and inspectors to concentrate more on policing matters.
“That’s a good idea…[and] you can expect victim services to expand substantially,” Supt Wall added.
Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy asked: “What’s the rationale of putting Kildare and Laois and Offaly together?”
Supt Henry explained that the re-organisation was based on research from best international practice.
“A roster of 3-400 is not self-sufficient, but if you have 6-800 in a district, it is. You’d be able to operate almost autonomously,” he said.
This was the accepted figure to include the full house of expertise, like forensics, armed support, community policing, traffic, a water unit.
He explained that four pilot trials had been in situ in four districts nationwide for the last six months, but that: “I haven’t seen enough just yet to decide”.
“The chief will now have to answer to three JPCs however,” he admitted.