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Lack of training and guidance key weaknesses of Adult Cautioning Scheme according to report

The report says that only one Garda can recall receiving specialized training for the adult caution scheme.

File photo
File photo
Image: Eamonn Farrell

A POLICING AUTHORITY review into the Gardaí’s Adult Cautioning Scheme has found that there are several weaknesses within the system, concerning governance and a lack of guidance or training for Gardaí.

The report, which was published today, does highlight that the system has achieved its purpose of dealing with low-level offences, as well as reducing the strain on the court system.

However, there are issues with guidance and training for Gardaí to operate the scheme. According to the report, only one Garda (a recent recruit) can recall receiving any specialized training for using the Adult Cautioning Scheme. 

In this case, the Garda only received guidance on how to operate the system “on the street” and there was no training on how to record the uses of the scheme through paperwork or the PULSE system.

Other Gardaí can recall receiving informal training, with experience being passed down by more senior Gardaí to their junior counterparts.

Due to this, the recording of data for Adult Cautions was found to be inadequate as there was no standardized way of entering data into the PULSE system. 

With these issues, there is no way to find out how many adult cautions have been issued since the scheme was introduced in 2006.

The report also found that there was a lack of governance over the scheme, and there is a lack of awareness around ownership of the scheme within the Gardaí at a centralized or senior level.

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In a statement, Policing Authority Chairperson Bob Collins said, “As well as highlighting a number of significant challenges in the operation of the Adult Cautioning Scheme, this Review speaks to wider, systemic weaknesses in the Garda Síochána in relation to governance, data quality, training and allied areas.”

This is consistent with themes identified by the Authority in other areas as part of our ongoing oversight of the Garda Síochána. 

“The Authority welcomes the Garda Commissioner’s commitment to addressing the challenges identified by this Review.”

An Garda Síochana has responded to the review and outlined several actions to help improve the system, such as training and updates to the PULSE system. 

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