The Garda Commissioner has defended the new policing model that will introduce major changes to the structures of An Garda Síochána.

The Operating Model for An Garda Síochána was announced by Drew Harris last month and is the biggest restructuring of the force in modern times. 

The plan also includes the deployment of an additional 1,800 gardaí to frontlines. 

The current six garda regions will be reduced to four under the plan, while the existing 28 divisions will be reduced to 19.

Drew Harris told a conference in Cork this afternoon that sticking to structures from the 1920s is not going to deliver the best results for the country's increasingly diverse communities.

He insisted that the new model would provide more frontline gardaí, increased garda visibility, and a wider range of policing services in local communities.

Mr Harris said 1,000 gardaí would be released from support-type duties, reducing their time in stations to spend it instead out on the beat.

He also said victims should see their crime investigated quicker and by specially trained investigators.

Mr Harris rejected the suggestion that he was creating 19 new mini-police services, insisting that the local commanders in the new divisions would be subject to regional and national oversight and must operate within a corporate framework.

This, he said, would ensure consistency in the delivery of policing, which he said had been lacking.

Mr Harris said garda superintendents would not be pulled into divisional headquarters, but would be in key locations throughout a division.

Commissioner Harris also stressed that An Garda Síochána listens and responds to concerns and referenced as an example of this the establishment of Victims Services Offices and the Protective Services Bureau, which were set up by the previous commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.

The new operating model has been criticised by the garda associations, but welcomed by Government and the Policing Authority.

The commissioner was speaking at the North South Criminology Conference in University College Cork.