Garda should try to bring Irish officers home, Inspectorate says

Current system of finding staff ‘highly inefficient’ as many lose interest in long process

An Garda Síochána should, for the first time, put a concerted effort into recruiting police officers currently serving in other countries, the Garda Inspectorate report recommends.

Robert Olson, the author of the report, also says Garda management should begin to actively consult with Government ministers and departments about the force's budget allocation, a process which it currently has no direct involvement in.

Following the HSE’s attempts to entice Irish nurses employed abroad to accept posts at home, the report advises the Garda to employ a similar strategy given the number of fully-trained Irish ex-pats serving in police forces around the world.

An Garda Síochána does not currently have a targeted programme for overseas recruitment, points out former Minneapolis chief of police Mr Olson, who also brands the current recruitment system as “highly inefficient” as many applicants lose interest or find employment elsewhere during the months or years-long selection process.


Skills deficits

The report also identifies “skills deficits” among gardaí due to a lack of training and continuous professional development afforded to members over recent years, and recommends that a programme of “ongoing continuous professional development” should be made available to all personnel.

The Garda College in Templemore should have its own ringfenced budget, and there should be a review of the 32-week residential training course for gardaí at the college "with a view to reducing the duration" of that programme in favour of more time in operational settings and on independent patrol for trainees.

“The majority of Garda training takes place at the college. This is expensive and inefficient,” says the report.

It adds that volunteers with the 1,000-member Garda Reserve could be put to better use, and divesting some time and labour-intensive duties currently carried out by rank and file gardaí such as custody services and healthcare for people in custody to other agencies could also free up additional operational capacity.

Members of the reserve were recently given more powers, meaning they could perform duties including foot patrol and road traffic checkpoints if accompanied by a full-time Garda.

Event policing

Elsewhere, the report says that in order to optimise cost recovery An Garda Síochána should consider addressing the situation whereby the full costs of policing public events are not met by promoters.

Regarding responses to false alarms, an increased call-out fee for the property owner in such circumstances would also lead to greater efficiencies in cost recovery and could free up “thousands of Garda operational hours” if the deterrent is successful.

There are currently no policies in place detailing how to deal with “high-risk” issues such as potential substance abuse and corruption among gardaí, and this should be addressed by developing clearer policies and providing training in those areas it says.

As opposed to the existing policy, Mr Olson suggests that all uniformed gardaí should be issued with a name badge so individual on-duty officers could be more easily identified by members of the public.