Authority identifies ‘fundamental flaws’ in Garda reform process

Only one out of 26 gardaí in a Garda unit was trained to drive in emergency situations

New recruits are still not receiving driver training as part of their basic training, the Policing Authority said.

New recruits are still not receiving driver training as part of their basic training, the Policing Authority said.

 

The Policing Authority has identified “fundamental flaws” in An Garda Síochána’s reform process in its latest report.

In its fifth report on the Implementation of Changing Policing in Ireland programme, published on Wednesday, the authority reiterated its concern regarding the “slow pace of delivery” on the Garda’s modernisation and renewal programme.

However, it said, “the pace of progress is now secondary to the authority’s concern over fundamental flaws in the reform process that are much more significant than timing”.

The authority said if An Garda Síochána does not pause briefly to “reconsider in a determined and focused way the end to which its efforts and resources are being directed” a continuation of current activity will not deliver the reform envisaged.

“Neither will it deliver an improvement in the quality of working life for those within the Garda Síochána or an effective, responsive, modern policing service for communities,” it said.

The authority said barriers to effective progress relate to training, human resources, ICT (information and communications technology) and accommodation. Underlying these barriers is the lack of a clear vision for the future of An Garda Síochána when it is 21,000 strong, it said.

New recruits are still not receiving driver training as part of their basic training, “so that 800 recruits are attesting each year without the ability to operate Garda vehicles”.

Out of 26 sworn members in one Garda unit the authority visited, only one had sufficient training to drive in emergency situations.

“A further two had the very basic level of CPD driver training which would allow them to drive a service vehicle, but not respond to emergencies or engage in high speed pursuits, leaving 23 sworn members unqualified to drive the vehicle,” the report said.

“It continues to frustrate the authority that the training of drivers has not been included as an organisational priority.”

In a separate report, assessing An Garda Síochána’s policing performance so far this year, the authority said while there have been areas of significant progress within the Policing Plan, a “substantial proportion” of the commitments were behind schedule or had not commenced by the end of June.

It said the action plan to address the recommendations of the Crowe Horwath review into falsified breath tests has not been produced and key issues remain.

“For example, there is a failure to conduct testing at serious and fatal road collisions in a significant proportion of cases, with 42 per cent of drivers not being tested in serious injury collisions and 22 per cent of drivers not being tested in fatal collisions in the period from 2004 to 2016,” it said.

The report said no progress has been made so far this year to arrest the decline in detections across the majority of crime types. It said the increase in assaults over the past two years has been significant and requires a concerted organisation-wide response.