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Dublin: 10°C Thursday 26 May 2022

'It's falling on deaf ears': Still no plan for gardaí without lights and sirens driver training

The Garda Representative Association said as many as 60% of gardaí only have basic driver training, which means they can not exceed the speed limit in a chase.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

DESPITE CALLS FOR a number of years for gardaí to be given vital driver training, management still does not have a plan in place to address the backlog.

This failure was highlighted by the Policing Authority in its more recent performance assessment.

“It was confirmed to the authority that there was a backlog of garda members awaiting Competency Based Driver Level 2 (CPD2). This level of training allows a member to drive in response mode (with lights and sirens),” the authority said.

However, the capacity of the Garda Driving School was 540 per annum, which was insufficient to address the backlog. Avenues for seeking external training were being explored to increase training capacity, but as of the July Policing Strategy and Performance Committee meeting, a solution had still not been found.

This issue has been on the agenda for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) for several years and the association’s director of communications John O’Keeffe said the push for movement in this area “has fallen on deaf ears”.

“Many of our members are driving at CBD 1 level – perhaps 60%. It is critical to note that this is not training by any stretch of the imagination. This is a driving assessment delivered primarily to non-front line members of the force, and to members not yet selected to undergo full training at CBD 2,” he explained.

“Gardaí who complete a one-day CBD1 assessment may drive patrol cars, but they have to sign a document promising not to exceed the speed limit at any time and that they will not turn on their sirens or flashing lights.”

This means a garda with training at this basic level, even in a marked patrol car, can only flash their headlights in an attempt to stop a suspicious vehicle.

“They cannot activate their blue lights and sirens and must instead obey all normal rules of the road as would any other driver, “O’Keeffe said. “This has enormous knock on implications, not least of which is much slower response times to all types of call outs or car pursuits.”

At a specific level, this lack of driver training a huge disservice to the general public and the rightful expectations they have on garda response times to deal with any given incident in a safe and professional manner.

He pointed out that serious shortfalls in training for rank-and-file gardaí has been highlighted in numerous reports in recent years.

“There would be uproar if this lack of continuing training were absent in any other job or profession such as accountancy or law. Yet where it matters to all our safety – within our own police force – this situation has been allowed continue.”

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