Community Policing Unit downgraded for roster change

Community Policing Units have been downgraded in Cavan-Monaghan in order facilitate the setting up of 'Unit E' as the row over Garda roster changes with Commissioner Drew Harris rumbles on.

Specialised policing in divisions across the country are coming under pressure to provide additional members to hold-up the controversial proposed working hours plan.

The Anglo-Celt understands that Community Policing Units in Bailieborough, Carrickmacross, Monaghan and Castleblaney have all been but disbanded, with officers set to be seconded and put back on regular core duties for when the new roster comes into effect in November.

They're expected to remain on the frontline until such time as they can be replaced by newly graduated gardaí out of Templemore.

Last week more than 9,000 members of the Garda Representative Association overwhelmingly expressed no confidence in Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on foot of rank-and-file concerns over the redeployment plan.

Commissioner Harris has announced a return to officers working six days on and four off with four units, doing away with the current emergency Covid roster that saw four garda units working for four days with four rest days in a row.

Commissioner Harris is set to meet garda representative bodies today (Thursday), September 21, in the hope of overcoming the impasse.

An Garda Síochána confirmed that the Westmanstown Roster would recommence on November 6 and its aim is to "increase the uniform visibility of frontline gardaí".

A spokesperson told The Anglo-Celt that there is no organisational policy to disband either the Community Policing Unit or the Divisional Drugs Unit.

He explained that Westmanstown Roster is the only roster that has the collective agreement of all the Garda Associations and operated between March 2012 and March 2020 before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in an emergency roster being introduced to deal with the unique policing requirements of the time.

"The COVID-19 roster is no longer suitable for the delivery of a 24/7 policing service," said the spokesman via a statement from the Garda Press Office.

The Westmanstown Roster was successfully implemented in 2012 and operated for eight years until 2020.

The Garda workforce had 15,881 personnel (13,424 Sworn Garda members and 2,457 garda staff) at the end of 2012 when the roster was operational, while the current number of personnel stands at 17,252 (13,910 Sworn Garda members and 3,342 garda staff).

"Following three years of negotiations, which did not result in collective agreement of a roster, the Garda Commissioner has repeatedly invited the Garda staff associations to attend the WRC, the State’s industrial relations dispute resolution mechanism, to discuss the rosters issue and find a solution.

"Some of the Garda staff associations have not accepted this offer. Members of An Garda Síochána, and their staff associations were provided statutory access to the WRC in 2019," read the statement from the Garda Press Office.

The spokesperson further added: "No Garda members formally appointed to specialist units will be impacted as part of the reintroduction of the Westmanstown Roste."

He emphasised that there remains an ongoing commitment to both community policing and drugs enforcement and there are no plans for any garda station closures or changes to publically advertised opening hours of Garda stations.

"Any temporary changes to unit allocations will be reconsidered and addressed through the ongoing recruitment process," said the spokesman.

The next phase of Garda recruitment is due to commence next month, October 2023. "Recruitment is ongoing and accelerating," concludes the statement.