The Garda Water Unit provides an operational support and search capability to other Garda units and outside agencies in marine environments and hazardous locations. The unit consists of two operational teams based at Athlone Garda Station, Co. Westmeath and Santry Garda Station, Co. Dublin respectively.
The unit is regularly called in for investigations relating to murders and serious crime, missing persons and evidence recovery. In addition to underwater searches, it is also regularly asked to carry out surface patrols throughout the country and around the Irish coastline. This involves the enforcement of marine legislation and the policing of major events taking place on or near the water.
Applicants for the unit must:
- Have completed a minimum of 3 years frontline policing duty
- Pass a strict diving medical examination
- Complete a pre-selection course and interview
- Successfully complete an 8-week Basic Air Diving Course (H.S.E. Scuba & Surface Demand) at a recognised police diver training school (normally in the UK)
Successful applicants must complete a minimum of 5 years duty with the Garda Water Unit.
The environments where the Garda Water Unit members carry out their duties are potentially life-threatening. Therefore training of new team members is thorough and on-going. Members must successfully complete courses in the following areas:-
- Breathing Apparatus and Escape sets (Confined Space Searches)
- ISA Advanced Powerboat Coxain
- Firearms familiarisation & safe handling
- Evidence handling & recovery
- Garda Driving courses up to class C
Members can specialise in further areas including:-
- Dive Supervisor
- Underwater Photography
- Climbing & Rope Access
- Equipment Service Technician
- MS1000 Scanning SONAR operator
The Garda Water Unit cross-trains with other Garda units such as the Air Support Unit, Dog Unit and the Emergency Response Unit. It also carries out operations and exercises with a number of non-Garda agencies such as the Irish Coastguard, the Irish Customs Service, the Irish Naval Service, Dublin Fire Brigade and the Civil Defence
This type of multi-agency training improves the operational skills of team members and provides an opportunity to improve response times and capabilities.