NEW rosters are being drawn up in the Limerick Garda Division as the force tries to deal with a decline in numbers and the need to comply with the European working time directive.
At a meeting of the joint policing committee at Limerick City Council, Superintendent John Scanlan said the new arrangements for Limerick gardai were a “work-in-progress” but had to be finalised by the beginning of April and would involve members working longer shifts with more time off in between.
Units, he said, would overlap in such a way as to have “more gardai on at more critical times of the day when they are needed most”.
“This is not something we have a choice in,” Supt Scanlan told councillors.
“From our own people, we were aware we were in breach of the working time directive. People were finishing late at night and starting again in the morning. Some of them were travelling and the time between their start and finishing times was less than eight hours and that really wasn’t working in terms of European legislation and employment law.”
But additional pressure on Garda resources was coming from the recent retirements from the force, promotions and the current cap on recruitment with no trainees in Templemore.
“We all have to accept that the number of gardai is consistently and considerably being reduced and will be reduced further in the future. That is the reality. That is what we are faced with. We have no choice now but to get on with it,” said Supt Scanlan.
Committee chairman Cllr Michael Hourigan asked whether the fall in numbers would mean fewer community gardai on the beat in the city.
“No, there shouldn’t be,” replied Supt Scanlan, “only to the extent that where if we lose a garda, we don’t get a replacement.”
“But as we have said here on a previous occasion, we are fortunate in that the age profile here isn’t such that we are losing the same numbers as they are losing in other areas. We have a younger force here in the city. The county is a far different environment and the chief may be forced to backfill some of that with some of the city resource.