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.
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