PORTLAOISE is to act as a garda divisional headquarters following new reforms announced last week.
It will see new management structures at Portlaoise Garda Station overseeing three counties – Laois, Offaly and Kildare – with an approximate population of 400,000 people.
In deciding on Portlaoise as one of the new divisional headquarters, garda management said that a wide range of operational factors had been considered, which included population, geography, projected growth, crime trends and workload.
To date, €220,000 has been spent on preparation works ahead of major developments on the existing garda station in Portlaoise. The planned works include the construction of a three-storey office block on the army site at the rear of the garda station and demolition, rebuilding and major refurbishing on part of the old building. Works are expected to be completed in 2023.
The new headquarters in Portlaoise will come under the management of the Garda Eastern Region in Kilkenny, where the regional chief superintendent will be based.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the reforms will “deliver increased garda visibility in communities, as well as more localised services. Resources will be strongly focused on community policing. Chief superintendents and superintendents will be empowered to make decisions on how policing is best delivered within their divisions, while working to a corporate framework. Superintendents will be located throughout the divisions and will be supported by additional sergeants and inspectors.
“In addition, our new operating model will enhance the investigation of crime through the delivery of a greater range of specialised services in local areas, such as the investigation of sexual crime, domestic violence, cyber-crime and economic crime. Each division will be provided with a detective superintendent who, along with trained investigators in specialist areas, will be responsible for local crime investigation. Complex or highly technical crimes will generally be dealt with at national level,” he said.
Justice minister Charlie Flanagan said: “I want to acknowledge the hard work and dedicated commitment to police work by Chief Superintendent John Scanlon and his team towards detecting and investigating crime and keeping communities free from harm.
“From now on, Portlaoise Garda Station will be an even busier divisional HQ and it is vital that the multi-million refurbishment of Portlaoise Garda Station is accelerated to facilitate the new divisional offices.”