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Garda Síochána - national police force

The Garda Síochána


The Garda Síochána is the Irish national police force. It has responsibility for carrying out all policing duties in the Irish State. In addition, it provides State security services and carries out all criminal and traffic law enforcement. The name Garda Síochána in English means 'guardians of the peace'.

The Garda Síochána (also commonly referred to as the Gardaí), was formed in 1922. The first piece of Irish legislation relating to the Gardaí and describing their functions is the Garda Síochána (Temporary Provisions) Act 1923.

The Garda Museum and Archives contains information about the history of the Garda Síochána and information concerning policing in Ireland prior to 1922. Among the museum artefacts are photographs and documents outlining the history and development of policing in Ireland in the 19th-20th centuries. (See Further information below)

Structure of the Garda force

The Minister for Justice and Equality is accountable to the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) for the performance of the Garda Síochána. A Garda Commissioner is however, appointed by the government and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the force. The Commissioner has 3 Deputy Commissioners and 12 Assistant Commissioners.

For policing purposes, Ireland is divided into 6 regions, each of which has a Regional Assistant Commissioner. Each region is made up of a number of Garda Divisions. A Chief Superintendent is in charge of a Division, which is in turn made up of Districts. There are 25 Divisions and 109 Districts in the State.

Each District has a Superintendent in charge. Districts are divided into sub-districts, each normally the responsibility of a Sergeant. Each sub-district usually has only one Garda station. The number of Gardaí in a sub-district can vary from three to one hundred Gardaí.

Below Assistant Commissioner the Garda rank structure is as follows:

  • Chief Superintendent
  • Superintendent
  • Inspector
  • Sergeant
  • Garda

The basic command unit is the District. The Superintendent in charge is also known as the District Officer and has a number of specific functions relating to such matters as the licensing of bars and the issuing of firearms certificates.

There are approximately 14,000 members of the Garda Síochána. About 12,000 are uniformed Gardaí, the rest are plain clothed detectives. Only detectives carry firearms or guns. Uniformed members of the Gardaí do not carry firearms.

Garda power to search and arrest

The Gardaí have powers to arrest you if they suspect you of committing a criminal offence. They also have powers to search you or your property. In some cases, the Gardaí can arrest you and carry out searches without a warrant. You can find out more about the powers of the Gardaí to carry out searches and to make arrests.

Police certificates

Police certificates are often required before you can apply for a visa to visit or travel to other countries. There is more information about how to get a Police certificate here.

Reporting a crime

If you are a victim of a crime you should contact the Gardaí. The emergency services telephone number is 999 or 112. In less urgent situations you should contact your local Garda station. There is more information about reporting a crime to the Gardaí in our document Victims of crime and the Garda Síochána.

Crimestoppers is an initiative operated by the Gardaí and the business community. You can give information to the Gardaí about any criminal investigation using the confidential freephone number 1800 250 025. This confidential freephone number is staffed by specially trained detective Gardaí.

Getting access to information about you held by the Gardaí

Under the Data Protection Acts you have the right to be told whether the Gardaí have any information held on file about you. You also have a right to a copy of that information.

If, however, the Gardaí are holding information about you and giving the information to you would be likely to prejudice the prevention, detection and investigation of crime or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders you will not be given access to this information.

You can read more about access to Garda records here.


If you are not fully satisfied with the assistance you have received from members of the Garda Siochána or if you have any enquiries or suggestions, you should contact the Garda Victim Liaison Officer or your local superintendent. You will receive a reply within 21 days.

You can also make a complaint about a member of the Gardaí to the Garda Ombudsman. The Garda Ombudsman deals with complaints that contain allegations of criminal offences and improper conduct. For example, if a Garda is intoxicated (drunk) on duty.

Further information

For further information about the Gardaí you should contact:

Garda Headquarters

Garda Press and Public Relations Office
Phoenix Park
Dublin 8

Tel:(01) 666 0000
Fax:(01) 666 2033

Should you wish to speak directly with the Gardaí, please contact your local Garda station.

An application for information held about you under the Data Protection Acts should be sent to the Inspector in Charge at the following address:

Garda Central Vetting Unit

Racecourse Road

Tel:(0504) 27300
Locall:1890 488 488

You can make complaints about the Gardaí to:

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

150 Upper Abbey Street
Dublin 1

Locall:1890 600 800
Fax:(01) 814 7023

Page edited: 2 September 2010



Related Documents

  • Powers of Search
    The Gardai have certain powers to search premises and persons when they are investigating a crime in Ireland.
  • Questioning and surveillance
    The Gardai have the right to request information from the public, make general enquiries, etc. What is the role of the Gardai in questioning and surveillance of the public?
  • Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission
    The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission or Garda Ombudsman is an independent agency that deals with complaints from the Irish public about members of the Gardaí.

Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.