The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Michael McDowell, T.D., today announced that the Government has recently approved the establishment of a Garda Professional Standards Unit (GPSU) in An Garda Síochána.
The Minister said that "The establishment of this Unit is a key part of the ongoing reform of An Garda Síochána under the Act. The GPSU will enable An Garda Síochána to ensure that organisational efforts and initiatives are driven strategically and that value for money and international best practise in professional, ethical and human rights standards are maintained."
Section 24 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005 provides for the establishment of a Professional Standards Unit within An Garda Síochána which will have responsibilities for addressing performance, effectiveness and efficiency across all levels of policing activity. The Act sets out the following specific responsibilities for the Unit:
- the maintenance, development and promotion of professional standards in keeping with best international practice;
- the monitoring and assessment of the performance (operational, administrative and managerial) of An Garda Síochána ;
- the formulation of proposals for performance management and improvement.
In developing the Unit, Garda management reviewed comparable arrangements in police forces in the UK, Canada and Australia with a view to determining best practice in the area. The GPSU will be a key modernising tool and driver of enhanced Garda performance and accountability. A critical factor will be its ability to produce reliable, verifiable and non-anecdotal evidence of Garda standards and performance and to make firm and appropriate recommendations for improvement where necessary. It will ensure consistency, cohesion and credibility in how An Garda Síochána measures and monitors performance and publicly verifies its standards.
The Government has approved the necessary amendment to the Garda Síochána (Ranks) Order to allow for the establishment and operation of the Unit which will have a staff of 20 consisting of a mix of relevantly qualified and experienced Garda and civilian staff. Nine additional Gardaí consisting of one Chief Superintendent, two Superintendents, two Inspectors and four Sergeants has been sanctioned by Government.
The activities of the Professional Standards Unit will complement the Garda Inspectorate which will shortly be established under another provision of the Garda Act.
The Inspectorate will operate independently of An Garda Síochána and will report directly to the Minister. The objective of the Inspectorate is to ensure that the resources available to An Garda Síochána are used so as to achieve and maintain the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness in its operation and administration, as measured by reference to the best standards of comparable police services. A recruitment process is currently underway for the selection of a Chief Inspector for the Garda Inspectorate.
The Minister concluded by saying: "The establishment of this Professional Standards Unit and the Garda Inspectorate are practical examples of the Government's determination to support An Garda Síochána in their efforts to meet the challenges of enhanced professionalism, performance and accountability."
6 January 2006.