The Garda Síochána (also commonly referred to as the Gardaí) is the national police force. The name Garda Síochána in English means 'guardians of the peace'. The primary legislation under which it functions is the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
The Garda Síochána 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.
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.
The Minister for Justice and Equality is accountable to the Oireachtas 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.
On 1 January 2016, an independent Policing Authority was established under the Garda Síochána (Policing Authority and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 (pdf) to oversee the performance of the Garda Síochána in relation to policing services.
The Commissioner has 2 Deputy Commissioners and 12 Assistant Commissioners. Below Assistant Commissioner the Garda rank structure is as follows:
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.
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 1 Garda station. The number of Gardaí in a sub-district can vary from 3 to 100 Gardaí.
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 13,000 members of the Garda Síochána. Uniformed Gardaí do not routinely carry firearms.
The Garda Reserve is an unpaid body of voluntary members and can provide extra personnel when required. Reserve Gardaí have certain Garda powers while on duty and perform their policing duties under the supervision of, and supported by, regular Gardaí.
Their principal role consists of local patrols and crime reduction initiatives, targeted at specific local problem areas.
Information on the Garda Reserve is available on the Garda website.
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 on 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 25 00 25. This confidential freephone number is staffed by specially trained detective Gardaí.
You can find additional information on reporting a crime on the Garda website.
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.
There is information on Garda vetting 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 on duty.
For further information about the Gardaí you should contact:
Garda Press and Public Relations Office
Tel:(01) 666 0000
Fax:(01) 666 2033
Should you wish to speak directly with the Gardaí, contact your local Garda station.
You can make complaints about the Gardaí to:
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000. The Phone Service will operate Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm during January 2017. You can also visit your local Citizens Information Centre.