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The police force, An Garda Síochána (in English - Guardians of the Peace), was established in 1922 and is a national force of approximately 10,500 members. The general direction and control of the force is, subject to regulations made by the Minister for Justice, vested in a Commissioner appointed by the Government.The police force is an unarmed body, apart from some specialised units. The Headquarters of the force is in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Under the Commissioner there is a Headquarters staff of two Deputy Commissioners, six Assistant Commissioners and the Surgeon to the force. One of the Assistant Commissioners is in charge of the Dublin Metropolitan Area, one is based in the Garda College and has responsibility for police training, and the others are based at Headquarters in charge of administrative departments. The ranks of An Garda Síochána are, in descending order, Assistant Commissioner, Chief Superintendent, Superintendent, Inspector, Sergeant and Garda. Entry to the force is at the rank of Garda. The force operates in 23 Divisions, each of which is divided into Districts and Sub-Districts. Divisions include regular and special forces for crime detection and prevention. Divisions also carry out local police administrative functions. The police training centre is located at Templemore in Co. Tipperary. Garda trainees undergo a comprehensive two year training programme before entering the force. Among developed countries, Ireland has one of the lowest levels of serious crimes of violence while the crime detection rate is comparable to that of other countries.
The challenges facing the Garda Síochána in recent years have included the effects of social problems posed by rapid urbanisation. At the same time the policing of a circuitous border with Northern Ireland in co-operation with the defence forces has absorbed a considerable amount of the force’s resources.
In 1989, the Garda Síochána participated in its first United Nations peace-keeping mission, with the dispatch of a 50 member contingent to Namibia. Since then the Gardaí have been involved in other such missions, most notably in Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique and South Africa. Garda contingents are currently serving with the UN in Cyprus and the former Yugoslavia.