Policing Authority finds problems in Garda reform programme

Garda does not appear to have capacity to fill posts with civilians despite funds available

In an awkward interview with RTE News, Garda Representative Association (GRA)spokesman John O'Keeffe tried to explain their position on the breath tests debacle under intense questioning. Video: RTE News

 

One third of key Garda reforms proposed by the Garda Inspectorate have still no timeline for completion, and the Policing Authority does not share the force’s confidence that the full reform programme will be completed in five years, according to a new report from the authority.

The authority’s third report assessing the Garda Síochána’s implementation of recommendations in the inspectorate’s report, Changing Policing in Ireland, was published on Thursday.

The authority points out that even though funds are available to hire more civilians the Garda does not appear to have the capacity to fill the posts quickly.

And in some cases efforts to recruit civilian experts in key areas such as IT are being derailed because the business plans the Garda needs to prepare are of a very poor standard. Business cases for new staff have been held up by sections of the Garda and have not reached the authority.

However, the authority gave a cautious welcome to an apparent shift in willingness by the Garda to take sworn gardaí out of desk jobs and replace them with civilians.

The authority notes the long-standing recommendation that 1,500 gardaí could be taken out of desk jobs. The Garda Inspectorate said two years ago that these desk jobs could be filled by civilians, who would be cheaper to hire, and the 1,500 gardaí could then be deployed to active policing roles.

Civilianised

The authority says a Garda review found only 152 to 163 of the 1,500 posts could be civilianised. However, the Garda has reappraised that finding and identified 2,055 posts in which gardaí could be freed up by being replaced by civilians.

However, the authority is concerned about the commitment of the Garda in this regard. It says the Garda described the 2,055 positions as being “suitable for consideration with a view to civilianisation”. It describes the language used as “uncertain”.

The Policing Authority says Garda headquarters is the section of the force most resistant to civilianisation. “The authority noted the relative absence of roles identified in HQ units or amongst the senior ranks, and this is something to which the authority will return.”

It added of the Garda overall: “The pace of civilianisation has been slow....Indeed, some of the civilian IT positions have been sanctioned since early 2015 and remain unfilled.

Frustration

“Some members of the Garda at divisional level have also expressed frustration at what they perceive to be the authority’s tardiness in ‘getting civilians’.

“[The frustration follows] their submission of business cases, when it fact these business cases had never reached the authority, and were held up in other levels of the Garda Síochána.”

The Policing Authority was also concerned new Garda members were continuing to leave the Garda College in Templemore without driver training. This exacerbated the backlog of driver training that needed to be completed, and was a significant risk factor for the Garda.

Meanwhile, in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan did not rule out an internal candidate being successful in the interview process for the Garda Commissioner. The Taoiseach insisted all candidates would be considered.