9th December, 2015
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald T.D. has today published the report of the Garda Inspectorate “Changing Policing in Ireland - Delivering a Visible, Accessible and Responsive Service”. The Minister thanked the Garda Inspectorate for their commitment, diligence and hard work in producing the report.
Commenting on the report, the Minister said “This report represents the outcome of a thorough examination of the operation and administration of An Garda Síochána conducted by the Garda Inspectorate in accordance with its terms of reference over a two year period. 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.”
In relation to the wider reform agenda the Minister noted that the Government’s focus over the past 18 months has been to put in place concrete measure to ensure and enhance ongoing public confidence in policing in Ireland, while continuing to support the men and women of An Garda Síochána in their day-to-day work of keeping our communities and country safe. Examples of such measures include:
· The Government appointed the Garda Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioners following an open and independent selection process.
· The Garda Commissioner will shortly publish a new Transformation Programme for An Garda Síochána.
· Legislation was introduced and enacted to strengthen the role and remit the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).
· Judge Mary-Ellen Ring has been nominated as the Chairperson of GSOC.
· A Commission of Investigation, chaired by Justice O’Higgins, has been established and is currently examining matters in the Cavan/Monaghan Garda Division. The terms of reference are fully in line with those recommended in the Guerin Report.
· The Independent Review Mechanism, consisting of a panel of counsel, has examined examining 320 complaints alleging Garda misconduct or problems with investigating misconduct. Letters are continuing to issue to complainants and a summary report will be published.
· The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 allows Garda members to make “protected disclosures” to GSOC in confidence in respect of alleged Garda misconduct.
· The Freedom of Information Act 2014 has been extended to An Garda Síochána.
· The Garda Professional Standards Unit (GPSU) on the operation of the fixed charge processing system (penalty points) was published. In response the Minister for Justice & Equality appointed Judge Mathew Deery, former President of the Circuit Court, to the new position of Independent Oversight Authority for the fixed charge processing system.
· In November 2014, the Garda Inspectorate published a comprehensive report on Crime Investigation. Significant work is continuing to implement its recommendations including:
o review of crime counting rules by the CSO;
o establishment of a Data Quality Team in An Garda Síochána;
o significant reorganisation and amalgamation of Garda national units;
o establishment of a Criminal Justice Steering Group to provide greater coordination between all bodies operating the Criminal Justice system;
o Gardaí have established a new Incident Recording Process;
o A working group has examined the need for increased investment in Garda ICT as part of the upcoming Capital Programme.
o Gardaí have established Victim Support Office in every local Garda division
The Inspectorate report that is being published today is one part of a review of An Garda Síochána under the Haddington Road Agreement. The other part, which concerns the remuneration and conditions of service of members of An Garda Síochána, and appropriate industrial relations mechanisms is progressing under the stewardship of Mr Ray McGee, former Deputy Chairperson of the Labour Relations Commission. Referring to this ongoing process the Minister stated “I intend to send the Inspectorate’s report to Mr McGee so that he, and the other parties to the review, including the Garda Associations, can take account of its recommendations in the course of their work which I hope will be brought to a conclusion as quickly as possible in the New Year.”
The Inspectorate’s report runs to some 380 pages and contains over 80 recommendations accompanied by key actions to be implemented in the short, medium or long term. The recommendations address the structure of An Garda Síochána; operational deployment practices: enablers of organisational change: effective use of human resources; and financial, information technology and other resource practices.
The Minister noted that the report demonstrates the continuing scope for broad-ranging reforms within An Garda Síochána but added “I welcome the acknowledgement in the report that An Garda Síochána is not alone in requiring reform. The report notes that all of the other police forces which the Inspectorate examined in the course of its review either had, or were, implementing major change programmes. The need for on-going reform is a challenge that all police forces and institutions generally face and I welcome the Garda Commissioner’s intention to publish a Strategic Transformation Programme for the Service shortly.”
In relation to how consideration of the report is to be progressed the Minister said “I intend to send the report to all those to whom recommendations are directed and I will request them to respond to me within a reasonably short period of time, having regard to the size and scope of the report. Many of the recommendations are far-reaching and, if implemented, would result in a fundamental restructuring of An Garda Síochána across the country. It is important that the full implications of the recommendations are considered in detail, and a wide range of views are heard, before decisions are taken on them. The Government is determined that whatever actions might ultimately be taken in response to the recommendations will not interfere in anyway with the closeness of the relationship between An Garda Síochána and the communities it serves. In fact many of these recommendations are aimed at enhancing and developing frontline policing and community supports."
The Cabinet yesterday requested the Inspectorate and the Garda Commissioner to attend and make a presentation on the report at a specially convened Cabinet Committee meeting on Justice Reform next week.
The Minister also said that the report would be formally sent to the Chairperson-designate of the forthcoming Policing Authority. The Garda Síochána (Policing Authority and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2015 includes among the functions of the Authority, a role in relation to the monitoring of the implementation of reports of the Inspectorate.