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Government told: 2,000 gardaí need to get out from behind desks and get back on the street

That is the view of the Garda Inspectorate.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A NEW REPORT from the Garda Inspectorate says that too many gardaí are at desks and not on the beat.

The report, entitled Changing Policing in Ireland, said that between 1,500 and 2,000 gardaí who are at desks could on Ireland’s streets.

The report is critical of a number of Garda practices including:

  • An “ineffective organisational structure, struggling to cope with the demand for Garda services”
  • Deficiencies in governance, accountability, leadership and intrusive supervision
  • The “current district structure generates inconsistencies and unnecessarily takes resources from patrol, investigation and community policing”
  • People are “not always on duty at the right times, in the right places and doing the right things”
  • Members of all ranks are “assigned to non-operational roles that do not require sworn powers”
  • There is a “very low proportion of civilian staff to gardaí”, compared to other police services
  • Resources are not allocated according to demand
  • “The current culture is inhibiting change. Many staff view the organisation as closed, defensive and having a blame culture”

Head of the Inspectorate Chief Inspector Robert K. Olson said today that the force needs to change.

The Garda Síochána can no longer afford to let the past dictate the future. This review is about changing policing in Ireland to deliver a more visible, accessible and responsive service.

PastedImage-54582 Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The review heard the views of 2,500 gardaí and recommends serious changes.

Some of the key recommendations made in the report are:

  • Change of the organisational structure to one that is leaner at senior management level and provides more gardaí for front-line duties
  • Reduction of the number of garda regions from six to three
  • Putting civilian garda staff in roles that do not need sworn powers to release over 1,500 fully trained and experienced gardaí to front-line duties
  • Development of a new divisional policing model that “puts communities first with more gardaí on the front line, delivering consistent services countrywide”
  • Amalgamate garda divisions to reduce administrative layers and release more gardaí to the front line
  • Elevation of the role of superintendents to a divisional level, with responsibility for a specific function, rather than the current situation of having responsibilities for a very broad range of functions at district level
  • Development of multiple rosters to meet the various demands of units
  • Development of a performance management system for all personnel, to encourage good performance and to provide for an ultimate sanction of dismissal in cases of continued underperformance

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the report was important reading:

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“This report makes a critical and important contribution to the ongoing reform agenda of An Garda Síochána. The reform agenda currently underway in the justice sector is aimed at strengthening accountability, modernising the Garda Síochána and ensuring that resources are used to best effect.”

A Garda statement said senior gardaí were reading the report:

“An Garda Síochána is studying the Garda Inspectorate report closely.

The report will inform our renewal programme, Policing and Security with TRUST, which will be published in the New Year.

“As requested by the Minister for Justice and Equality, An Garda Síochána will provide our observations on the report.”

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