The first group of students to begin training in the Garda College since 2009 were addressed by the Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald TD and the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan on Monday Sept 15th at the Garda College in Templemore, Co. Tipperary.
The 100 students are made up of 18 females and 82 males. 24 of the students are former Garda Reserve members. A total of 22 Irish counties are accounted for in the group, with Dublin providing the largest number of students with 26. Eight counties provide one student each, while there are two students with current addresses outside of the Republic of Ireland, in Suffolk and London in the UK. All students are Irish citizens. The students range in age from 20 to 33.
Many of the students hold various degrees, in Law, Business, Biotechnology, Social Studies, Environmental Engineering and Sociology, and masters in Criminology and Human Rights in Criminal Justice, and the working background of the garda students also varies, from engineers, fitness instructors, psychiatric nurses, carpenters and plumbers.
During the course of their training, students will undertake a BA in Applied Policing. This programme was developed following a comprehensive review of Garda training in 2009. The BA is an accelerated programme with the students carrying out three phases of learning, each of which is the equivalent of an academic year. It is accredited by the University of Limerick.
Chief Supt Ann-Marie McMahon said it was a very significant day for both An Garda Siochana and the Garda College. “The rigorous training that the students will be facing will equip them with the tools they need to provide the professional, efficient policing service that is expected by Irish communities today. Our training programme has been updated to focus on problem solving, and reflects the daily duties and responsibilities of Gardai. It will ensure that the students will be trained to a standard befitting a 21st century police service.”
Addressing the students, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’ Sullivan said the recruitment process was a very unusual one, with 25,000 people applying to join the force, however, with just 100 positions available, it was one of the strongest and toughest competitions in recent years. The Commissioner wished well, those of the 25,000 who didn’t succeed in getting through on this occasion, but described those who did as the brightest, the best and the elite.
This positive and good news story for the Garda Force was overshadowed by new revelations over the past weekend regarding the penalty point’s controversy. The Commissioner denied that the entire force is ill-disciplined. She also said the new policy system which came in June is being strictly implemented. She said “Yes, new information has been brought to our notice and we will look at that, and we are taking it with extreme seriousness, but I don’t think it should in anyway detract from the excellent work that the men and women of An Garda Siochana do every single day. The support that they provide to the community, and also the support that the community provide to An Garda Siochana”
Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD said “Today is an opportunity to say thank you to the force for all of the work that’s done, and to welcome the new students. This is a positive day for An Garda Siochana and it’s also a sign of our economic recovery”
By Declan Keogh
The Training Programme
The full programme will be completed in three phases. Phase 1, over 32 weeks, phase 2 over 34 weeks and phase 3 over 38 weeks.
The methodologies employed by the BA in Applied Policing are designed to ensure the students learn in a consistent and coherent manner, while additionally addressing the issue of the ‘theory/practice’ gap identified by the 2009 training review.
A blended learning approach has been adopted, utilising hybrid
Problem Based Learning (PBL), Work Based Learning (WBL) and competency
Phase I of the programme, delivered in the Garda College over
32 weeks, adopts a hybrid PBL approach to learning. Trainees learn in
small groups through engagement with realistic policing scenarios.
On successful completion of Phase I trainees will be conferred with full policing powers to enable full engagement with WBL phases of the programme as Probationer Gardaí.
Phase II is of 34 weeks duration and is delivered in policing
divisions through WBL. During the first 17 weeks, probationers ‘assist’
a trained peer tutor Garda, followed by 17 weeks of being ‘assisted’
by a tutor.
During Phase III, delivered over 38 weeks between the Garda
College and operational divisions, probationers act autonomously in
their role as members of An Garda Síochána and follow a more integrated
programme of professional competency learning and development under
supervision. Probationers will also follow a programme of formal