Garda Síochána - national police force

Introduction

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 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.

The Gardaí have many powers including the powers to arrest you if they suspect you of committing a criminal offence. They also have the powers to search you or your property. Uniformed Gardaí do not routinely carry firearms.

The Minister for Justice is accountable to the Oireachtas for the performance of the Garda Síochána. The primary legislation under which it functions is the Garda Síochána Act 2005

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.

Organisation and structure

There are approximately 14,000 members of the Garda Síochána.

A Garda Commissioner appointed by the Government is responsible for the day-to-day running of the force.

The Commissioner is assisted by a Deputy Commissioner and a Chief Administrative Officer. Below them are a number of Assistant Commissioners who are responsible for geographical regions, or critical portfolios, such as National Support Services or Traffic.

Below Assistant Commissioner the Garda rank structure is as follows:

  • Chief Superintendent
  • Superintendent
  • Inspector
  • Sergeant
  • Garda
  • Reserve Garda

Garda regions and districts

Ireland is divided into 4 Garda regions, each of which has a regional Assistant Commissioner. Each region is divided into divisions. A Chief Superintendent is in charge of each division. Each division is divided into districts, each of which 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 station 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.

Garda Reserve

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.

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 on reporting a crime.

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.

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.

There is information on Garda vetting here.

Oversight and complaints

An independent Policing Authority oversees the performance of the Garda Síochána. They approve a three year strategy statement and give advice to the Minster for Justice. They oversee compliance to their Code of Ethics for the Garda Síochána (pdf). The Policing authority was established under the Garda Síochána (Policing Authority and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 (pdf).

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 your local Garda station and ask for the officer in charge or contact the Garda Victim Liaison Office.

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.

Further information

For further information about the Gardaí you should contact:

Garda Headquarters

Garda Press and Public Relations Office

Phoenix Park
Dublin 8
Ireland

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

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

To contact the Garda Victim Liasion Office:

Garda Síochána

Garda Victim Liaison Office

Garda National Protective Services Bureau
Harcourt Square
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 6663453

You can make complaints about the Gardaí to:

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

150 Upper Abbey Street
Dublin 1
Ireland

Locall: 1890 600 800
Fax: (01) 814 7023
Page edited: 16 December 2021