Minister says Inspectorate report raises serious concerns and represents a highly challenging analysis of Garda processes and systems

Minister welcomes comprehensive recommendations on need for upgraded technology, effective systems and changes to management practice

Report will contribute to Minister’s ongoing reforms aimed at delivering ‘sea-change in policing’

• New Policing Authority to play key roles in implementation of Garda reforms
• Government commits to upgrading Garda technology to bring outdated paper based practices into the 21st century
• CSO to carry-out analysis of recording, classification and reclassification of crime on Garda Pulse system; and to chair new Expert Panel to draw up new National Standards for Crime Counting
• Minister welcomes Garda plans to establish new Data Quality Team and to establish Victim Liaison Office in every Garda division
• Minister commits to new legislation to allow implementation of EU Victims Directive and ratification of Istanbul Convention on domestic violence

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice & Equality, has today published the report of the Garda Inspectorate on Crime Investigation. The Minister thanked the Garda Inspectorate for their work on this comprehensive report.

The Minister said: “The Inspectorate report raises serious concerns and represents a highly challenging analysis of Garda processes and systems, highlights serious systemic weaknesses; and will inform my ongoing reform of policing in Ireland.”

In its report, the Inspectorate has found a police service in need of modernisation of its crime investigation operational and support infrastructure. The report identifies the absence of up-to-date dispatch technology as well as deficiencies in practices, supervision and governance relating to the recording, classification and investigation of crime. The report examines the current system for counting and categorising recorded crime and the level of recorded detections for those crimes; and highlights concerns in this area.

The Minister added that “while rightly unsparing in its criticisms in relation to identified inadequacies, it also recognises that the systemic challenges and deficiencies identified during the inspection are not unique to An Garda Síochána but are common right throughout the world in policing services.”

The Minister stated: “This report, undertaken as part of the Inspectorate’s work agreed by the Government, is a vital piece of work which is long overdue. I welcome the comprehensive recommendations on the need for upgraded technology, effective systems and changes to management practice. The Inspectorate’s analysis provides an important foundation stone for future development of a 21st century policing service for Ireland.”
The Report states that “The Inspectorate was impressed by the hundreds of hard working and dedicated rank and file officers, reserves and support staff (they) met in every region, that were doing their best to get the job done, not withstanding inefficient processes, dated technology and poor management practices...”

Commenting on this, the Minister stated “the report rightly acknowledges, as I do, the dedication and commitments of the men and women of An Garda Síochána who strive everyday to ensure the safety of our communities and the security of our state. Day-in-day-out, members of An Garda Síochána have many considerable successes in preventing and detecting crime, identifying and arresting offenders and keeping our communities safe.”

“There is a pressing need to ensure that An Garda Síochána has access to effective, modern systems and processes; particularly where systems and processes have not kept pace with developments in broader society and other police services globally”.

The Inspectorate Report represents the culmination of more than two years of intensive work and is the largest and most comprehensive inspection done to date by the Inspectorate. Every facet of how An Garda Síochána responds to and investigates crime is addressed, with more than 200 recommendations set out for implementation over the short, medium and long term.

The Minister noted that the Government was already implementing a comprehensive justice reform programme, which includes:
• establishment of an independent Police Authority;
• strengthening of the powers of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission; and
• an open competition for the recruitment of the Garda Commissioner.

Implementation of this programme is being overseen by the Cabinet Committee on Justice Reform chaired by An Taoiseach. Minister Fitzgerald today confirmed that the Cabinet Committee on Justice Reform will also take on a role in overseeing delivery of Garda reforms recommended by the Inspectorate.

The Minister added: “The reforms already underway, coupled with the reforms which will follow as a result of the Inspectorate’s analysis, will show that this Government and I are committed to delivering fully on the ‘sea-change in policing’ which I promised when I took office in May of this year.”

“Whatever the difficulties that have given rise to it, we now have a once in a generation chance to modernise fundamentally An Garda Síochána to ensure we have a policing service equipped and ready to meet all the challenges of 21st century policing; and which puts victims first.”

New Policing Authority to play key roles in implementation of Garda reforms
Last Friday, Minister Fitzgerald published details of the legislation which will see the establishment of a new Policing Authority. The Minister has today said that “the planned new Policing Authority will play a key role in implementation of reforms recommended by the Inspectorate.”

The Minister hopes to name the first Chairman-designate of the Policing Authority shortly.

The Minister stated: “Ahead of the formal establishment of the Policing Authority, I intend holding discussion with the Chairman-designate on establishment of an effective implementation framework to oversee delivery of reforms in An Garda Síochána along the lines recommended by the Inspectorate.”

Minister Fitzgerald has also welcomed the decision of An Garda Síochána to establish both:
• An Implementation Steering Group to immediately focus on the implementation of the short, medium and long-term recommendations in the Report;
• Risk compliance and continuous improvement teams which will be introduced in each region to support a revised focus on professional standards and to tackle any weaknesses identified in the Inspectorate's report

The Minister added that “the incoming Garda Commissioner, who is due to be appointed shortly following an open competition, will be charged with driving implementation of many of the reforms arising from the Inspectorate’s analysis.”

Government commits to upgrading Garda technology
The Inspectorate clearly attaches significant weight to its recommendation that An Garda Síochána should immediately move to acquire the necessary modern technology to underpin efficient and effective operational deployment and support decisions.

Minister Fitzgerald stated: “It is vital that Gardai going about their day-to-day policing duties have access to modern systems which will ensure reliable recording of crime

“The Government and I accept this fully and I am working with my colleague Minister Howlin to secure the necessary and early investment in upgrading Garda technology to bring outdated paper based practices into the 21st century.”

The Minister indicated she would be making further announcements shortly on the issue of investing in Garda technology, including in the context of the expected review of An Garda Síochána under the Haddington Road Agreement.

Minister welcomes Garda plans to establish new Data Quality Team
The Inspectorate’s analysis raises issues concerning the recording of crime and includes detailed recommendation designed to improve the consistency and accuracy of data within the Garda PULSE system. As the report recognises, these issues have been reported in other police services and the Inspectorate's recommendations draw from measures introduced in those jurisdictions.

Minister Fitzgerald today welcomed plans by Garda management to establish a new Data Quality Team in the Garda Information Services Centre (GISC) based in Castlebar, as well as measures to strengthen PULSE governance arrangements. The setting up of a Data Quality Team will provide independent oversight of the classification, reclassification of crime and crime detections. The Team will work with local Garda management to ensure a consistent approach to crime recording and to ensure that crime is correctly classified first time around.

The Minister stated: “I welcome the immediate measures being taken by An Garda Síochána including establishment of a new Data Quality Team. These reforms will address many of the Inspectorate’s recommendations and will further strengthen the accuracy and integrity of crime recording and classification by Gardai.”

CSO to carry-out analysis of recording, classification and reclassification of crime on Garda Pulse system
Minister Fitzgerald has held discussions with the Director General of the Central Statistics Office in relation to ensuring the integrity of published crime statistics.

The Minister stated: “Following my meeting, the CSO have now informed me that they are to carry-out a detailed analysis of certain issues raised by the Inspectorate in relation to the recording, classification and reclassification of crime on Garda Pulse system, to see whether and to what extent they may have implications for the crime statistics which that Office produces.

The Minister added: “This exercise will be of significant importance in helping to ensure and enhance the integrity of published crime statistics.”

The Minister further welcomes the fact that the CSO will now examine the means of carrying out a national Crime and Victimisation Survey in the near future, which will provide further insight into the extent and nature of crime in Ireland, independent of reported crime statistics.

Expert Panel to draw-up new National Standards for Crime Counting
The Minister also today confirmed that the CSO will chair an expert panel to examine the Inspectorate's recommendations on crime statistics.

The Minister stated: “The expert panel will review the crime counting and detection rules, as recommended by the Inspectorate, with a view to introducing new national standards. As well as including representatives of my Department and An Garda Síochána, the panel will have outside experts with relevant expertise.”

Minister welcome plans for Garda Victim Liaison Office to be established in every Garda division
The Inspectorate’s analysis rightly focuses on the needs of victims and identifies many areas where the police response needs to be improved, including when dealing with victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Minister Fitzgerald stated: “The support for victims in our own criminal justice system has improved in recent times but it has had a long way to come, and there is certainly much more to be done.”

The Minister said that she will also be taking steps to improve the capacity of victim support organisation funded by her Department to provide advice and assistance to victims at all stage of the criminal process.

“I know from the personal feedback I have received from victims that these services are highly valued in times of trauma and uncertainty, and that the additional funding will certainly be put to very good use.”

The Minister welcomed the initiative currently been undertaken by An Garda Síochána which will see Victim Liaison Offices established in each Garda division during 2015. The Victims Services Offices will be the central point of contact for all victims of crime and trauma in each Garda Division. They will provide advice, information and support to victims. The Offices will supplement victim support activity already being undertaken by members of An Garda Síochána. The Offices will be staffed by dedicated, specially trained personnel who will keep victims informed of all significant developments associated with their case, as well as provide guidance and support as appropriate. They will provide victims of crime with a direct contact to ensure they get the service they deserve.

The Minister stated: “This is a very welcome development which has my full support. I also welcome the strong emphasis the Garda authorities are placing on crime prevention and victim support and on embedding this culture within the Force.”

Minister Fitzgerald also welcomed the decision by An Garda Siochana, following a successful pilot, to roll out a system of risk assessing all domestic violence incidents.

New legislation to allow implementation of EU Victims Directive and ratification of Istanbul Convention on domestic violence
The Inspectorate report makes a number of specific recommendations in relation to victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Minister Fitzgerald has committed to comprehensively strengthening Ireland's approach to preventing and responding to all forms of sexual and domestic violence.

The Minister stated: “At the heart of this commitment is my intention to legislate for victims’ rights and to ensure the implementation in Ireland during 2015 of the EU Victims Directive. I will also bring forward a new Sexual Offences bill and I intend to introduce consolidated and reformed domestic violence legislation to address all aspects of domestic violence, threatened violence and intimidation. This legislative agenda will reinforce my plans for Ireland to sign and ratify the Council of Europe's Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention.”

Garda organisational reform
Minister Fitzgerald today confirmed that An Garda Síochána are responding positively to the organisational reform issues identified in the report, some of which are linked to a further review the Inspectorate is carrying out as part of the Haddington Road process.

The Minister stated: “One key reform will be arrangements to strengthen investigative and management capacity at Divisional level. However I believe it is vitally important that Gardai maintain links with local communities which are a hallmark of policing in Ireland.”

Issues identified in the report by Seán Guerin
At the request of Minister Fitzgerald, the Inspectorate report also considers those issues identified in the report by Seán Guerin SC relating to Garda practices and procedures which come within the Inspectorate's remit. The report deals with those issues in an addendum, and groups them into themes which are covered in the main body of the report. In respect of each theme, the addendum indicates the issues identified in the report by Mr Guerin, and relates them to the relevant findings and recommendations of the Inspectorate.

Minister Fitzgerald concluded: “The Government wanted this important report and we are determined to act on it. We will work to equip An Garda Síochána as a policing service ready to meet all the challenges of 21st century policing; and which puts the needs of victims first.”

The Report is available on the Department’s website. Link is Garda Inspectorate - Crime Investigation Report (PDF - 7.3MB)