Author Archives: Olga Cronin

From top: The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland; Garda Inspectorate Kathleen O’Toole speaking at the publication of the commission’s report today; and the report

It’s so bright.

You may need a fire retardant mask.

This afternoon.

The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland has published its 128-page report – 16 months after the commission was established.

In a summary of its key recommendations, it states…

An Garda Síochána should have a human rights strategy, and a human rights unit within the organisation to develop, implement and monitor the strategy. It should work with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to fulfil its human rights and equality responsibilities. Legislation defining police powers of arrest, search and detention should be codified, with statutory codes of practice.

…While crime is a top priority for police, in practice the majority of police time, in Ireland and elsewhere, is spent on harm prevention – providing service to people with mental health and addiction conditions, homeless people, children, elderly and others at risk. This broader concept of community safety needs to be embedded in legislation in a new Policing and Community Safety Act.

The Act should cover not only the police, but also the other agencies of government responsible for people at risk – including local authorities, health, child and other social services – who should be required by law to work with the police to protect people from harm.

…However, the national security function should not be lodged entirely within the police organisation and it is now necessary to augment An Garda Síochána’s responsibility for security operations. There should be a more structured multi-agency approach to security, and a Strategic Threat Analysis Centre, based in the Department of the Taoiseach and headed by a National Security Coordinator.

…An enhanced, regular programme of engagement between An Garda Síochána and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality should be introduced to improve the effectiveness of this channel.

…The operational independence of the Garda Commissioner should be explicit in legislation. Oversight should be streamlined, more coherent and strengthened in a new Policing and Community Safety Oversight Commission (PCSOC), superseding the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and the Policing Authority, and taking on most of their functions as well as some new ones.

…The system for managing complaints should be overhauled. An independent body, superseding GSOC, should be established, perhaps named the Independent Office of the Police Ombudsman (IOPO) to make clear that it is not part of An Garda Síochána. IOPO should receive all complaints about the police service, from whatever source.

...The Commissioner should be supported in running the police organisation by a statutory Board. Rarely if ever does a career police officer reach the position of chief of police with the full range of knowledge and expertise to run a complex institution of 15,000 people and a €1.65 billion budget.

…Poor quality crime data hampers both investigation and prevention. New systems, new processes, and better training in how to use them, are essential. So too is an agile data analytics capability, able to assist police operations in real time.

…. More police working in and with the community will help prevent and detect crime, reduce fear of crime, and protect people at risk. Many police are now doing jobs that do not require police powers, and should be done by nonsworn employees or outsourced. Police also have unnecessary administration duties, such as keeping paper records, duplicating electronic ones. These should be stopped.

The structure of An Garda Síochána should reflect the focus on the front line by becoming flatter and less siloed. Headquarters should set policies, broad strategy, standards and objectives.

…There was no recruitment and virtually no training for nearly six years following the financial crash. Now the pace of recruitment is very fast, putting strain on both the training college and the capacity of the organisation to absorb and supervise new recruits.

The great majority of recruits already have academic degrees and do not need some of the academic elements of the current recruit foundation course. Recruits who have degree qualifications prior to entry should therefore do a shorter course focused on policing, before moving on to their probationary Garda service in police stations, where, as we have said, supervision at sergeant level should be strengthened.

….A more determined effort should be made to recruit a more diverse workforce, both non-sworn and sworn, diverse not only in gender and ethnicity, but also in socioeconomic, educational and geographical background. A Garda Access Programme should be developed…

…An Garda Síochána needs to take better care of its employees. Policing presents both physical and mental challenges to wellbeing. The police urgently need a proactive programme to address wellness, with dedicated funding, as well as improved supports including timely debriefing and mandatory counselling after traumatic events.

…An Garda Síochána badly needs to introduce better business processes and systems for collecting, recording, managing, analysing and disseminating information about crimes, incidents, complaints, finance, human resources and other management issues…

Technology can provide the tools for this, as part of a comprehensive strategy for digital innovation. Current Garda technology is outdated and inadequate, to the detriment of both effective delivery of police services and efficient allocation of resources. Data should be seen as a strategic asset and a key factor in determining policing decisions…

…. The culture should be one of a team of professionals working together, not a hierarchy in which foot soldiers wait for instructions from above.

…An Garda Síochána should work with the technology sector in Ireland and with academic expertise to support police in tackling cybercrime and other technologyenabled challenges.

A Digital Policing Innovation Centre, supported by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, would enable An Garda Síochána and Ireland as a whole to contribute to technological innovation in policing.

…The large reform programme we have proposed cannot be completed overnight, but it must be progressed as fast as possible and we believe that 2022 is a realistic target date for policing to be substantially transformed. It is also symbolically important as the year in which the 100th anniversary of the founding of a police service for the Irish State will be celebrated.

The report can be read in full here

Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews

What does Irishness look like?’

Nigerian/Irish radio presenter Wuraola Majekodunmi tweets:

 I’m so excited to share it with you all! Thanks so much to everyone who helped with it, really appreciate it, The subject matter means a lot to me and many others…

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 11.55.19Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 11.55.07

From top: The body of a man found on ‘White Boat Beach’ in northern Lesbos, Greece; and the covered-up body of another man found just a few kilometres away near Molyvos Harbour. The bodies were discovered within hours of each other on Friday

Olga Cronin, an Irish volunteer with Norwegian volunteer group Dråpen i Havet [Drop In The Ocean] on Lesbos island in Greece, writes:

Volunteers are not the only people who can be found standing on the shoreline of northern Lesbos, looking out at the Aegean Sea, waiting for refugees to arrive.

A hodgepodge of local men, and sometimes women, often gather next to volunteers as the rubber dinghies or large wooden boats come ashore, waiting to salvage what they can from the boats once they’re abandoned.

It was a group of such men, busily sifting through washed-up debri about 30 to 50 metres left of us on what volunteers loosely call ‘White Boat Beach’, who called out to us early Friday morning, saying they believed they had found a dead body.

As they were calling us to join them, a dinghy full of refugees was already quickly approaching. It wasn’t until everyone was off the boat safely and starting to walk up the the beach towards the dirt road, between Eftalou and Skala Sykaminia, that a number of volunteers, including myself, went to inspect what the local men believed they had found.

As we neared them, they started to walk in the opposite direction, certain of what they had found but, seemingly, disinclined to get involved.

They were right; there was a dead body.

I could see two blue denim jean-clad legs, topped with black shoes, jutting out from under a mangled, deflated dinghy on the pebbled edge of the shore. As I stared, dumbstruck, the legs lifted and dropped gently with the ebb and the flow of the weak morning waves.

A bright orange life-jacket was sticking up, somewhat entwined with the dinghy, shielding the person’s face from view.

Gaia Giletta, a 25-year-old nurse from Turin, Italy – and a volunteer with Norwegian group Dråpen i Havet [A Drop In The Ocean] – took a closer look.

“He’s been dead a few days,” she said before calling the Greek Coastguard.

Within 30 or so minutes, coastguard officers arrived in a pick-up truck, followed by a tired-looking coroner.

The coroner pulled the dead man by his life-jacket, out from under the dinghy, and laid him out horizontal on the stony beach.

Although the coroner didn’t have much English, he communicated with photographer Gabriel Green, who was with the volunteers, that he wanted to make sure Mr Green had taken all the pictures he needed to take, as if to say he wanted the world to see what’s happening on his island.

“Afghan, Afghan,” he said looking at the body.

After checking for documents, of which there were none, the body was placed in a white bag before it was placed in the back of the pick-up truck and taken away. The coroner sat in the back of the truck with the body.

As Ms Giletta had initially called in the discovery of the body, she later received a phone call from the coastguard, asking her to make a statement at their offices in nearby Molyvos Harbour.

Ms Giletta knew exactly where to go, as she was already very familiar with Molyvos Harbour, having been there just several nights before when the bodes of three drowned children, among others, were brought to the harbour.

She went to make her statement and was in the middle of giving it, when a number of volunteers came running in to the office, asking her to follow them as they had found a man face down in the water on the other side of the harbour wall.

Dropping what she was doing, Ms Giletta ran with the other volunteers, and found the man laid out. The volunteers who had initially found him wrapped him in a blanket to “warm him”.

But he was already dead.

Ms Giletta said: “They were asking me to resuscitate him but when I looked at his face, I could see he had been dead for a long time.”

The volunteers begged Ms Giletta to do something. To appease the distressed volunteers, Ms Giletta used her stethoscope and checked his eyes but she knew it was too late.

“It was horrible. There were a lot of people, including refugees, walking up and down the harbour and one of his [the dead man’s] eyes was open,” recalled Ms Giletta.

After a doctor officially declared the man dead, the doctor asked for a volunteer to stay with the body until the coroner arrived.

Ms Giletta and photographer Gabriel Green offered to wait.

Almost two hours later, the coroner arrived – the very same coroner they met earlier that morning.

“He seemed to be really angry with the situation,” said Ms Giletta who understands he’s the only coroner in the north of the island.

Asked why she thinks it’s important for people to see pictures of the bodies of refugees, who didn’t make the journey from Turkey to Greece, washing up on the shores of Lesbos, Ms Giletta said: “If people don’t know what’s going on here, there won’t be any more help.”

Previously: Lawless Lesbos

A Drop In The Aegean

Letter From Lesbos

Pics: Gabriel Green