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This chart shows how the strength of the garda force has changed since 2008

Frances Fitzgerald has said the first group of trainees are expected to join the force in early 2015.

FIGURES FROM AN Garda Síochána show how much the strength of the force has fallen since the start of the recession.

As you can see from the chart above, there was growth in garda numbers between 2008 and 2009 but after that they fell consistently each year from 14,377 in December 2010 to 12,992 in April of this year.

In response to a recent parliamentary question from TD Bernard Durkan, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said management keep personnel distribution under “continuing review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities” to ensure the best possible use of resources.

At the start of this year, the first recruitment drive since 2009 was launched and some 20,000 people applied for positions in the forces. It is understood that between 250 and 300 new positions are being created.

Even if the full 300 positions are filled, however, it still would not bring the force close to its pre-recession strength.

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The minister noted that it is intended that the first intake of new trainees will enter the Garda College in July of this year. They will take part in the new training programme and it is expected they will join the force in early 2015.

Fitzgerald also said it is hoped to have further recruits entering training in Templemore later in 2014.

“The precise number of recruits to be included in each intake will be determined by a number of factors including retirements and will be decided shortly,” she said.

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