GARDA Commissioner Drew Harris said he will not wait for the construction of a new garda station in Macroom to roll out plans for a new divisional headquarters.
Although the proposed amalgamation of Cork West and Cork North is to create a new divisional headquarters in Macroom, Comm Harris said: ‘The buildings are going to have to follow on. If I had to wait for buildings, I would have to stretch out the timelines.’
In the meantime, he said, Bandon would serve as an ‘interim’ HQ. At a joint policing committee meeting in County Hall on Monday, Comm Harris confirmed that the new purpose-built county HQ in Macroom will be constructed as part of a public private pa rtnership (PPP) that includes stations in Clonmel and Sligo.
Commissioner Harris said the three are in ‘lock-step with one another’ and that he couldn’t give a timescale for their completion.
But he promised that some remedial works would be done to make the stations ‘more fit for purpose.’
Comm Harris said the plan would result in ‘a real increase of 800’ garda personnel over the next two years.
An Garda Siochana is also seeking to recruit 1,000 staff to free up gardaí from back office administration to more frontline duties, and Commissioner Harris said: ‘Each division would get their fair share of that.’ He insisted that the decision to make Macroom the divisional headquarters is not conditional on having the building in place and that Bandon would serve ‘as the interim HQ’ due to availability of accommodation there.
Commissioner Harris said that having a divisional HQ would not mean that all personnel would be centralised. He said: ‘It would be foolhardy to bring everyone into headquarters. That is not the plan. We are going for a model where personnel are diffused and superintendents, inspectors and sergeants will be geographically dispersed according to demand.
‘For the first time, each division will have their own divisional crime superintendent responsible for more serious crime – such as murder, economic crime, insurance fraud, robbery and serious sexual assault.