Garda to bypass public appointments process to fill key roles

Private recruiters to be used to source civilian staff

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has already begun implementing some recommended reforms. Photograh: Tom Honan

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has already begun implementing some recommended reforms. Photograh: Tom Honan

 

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris intends to use external recruitment agencies for the first time in an effort to fill key roles from the private sector.

The Garda has come in for significant criticism in recent years for its slow pace in recruiting civilians for administrative jobs to allow sworn gardaí to concentrate on frontline policing.

More recently, the wide-ranging report from the Commission on the Future of Policing (CFP) criticised the recruitment process for civilian Garda staff.

Civilian Garda staff are recruited first as civil servants and then assigned to the Garda. They remain civil servants and receive no specialist police training. There is no process for promotion for civilian staff within the force structure and they can be transferred to other Government departments at any time.

“This is not conducive to building a single workforce with a common loyalty and mission and we believe strongly that there is a need for a fundamental culture shift within the police organisation in its attitude to civilianisation,” the CFP stated last October.

Under the new system, the Garda will use an external, private recruitment service to advertise and fill specialist positions in the force including senior positions in human resources, finance and information and communication technology.

The new recruitment method would be used to fill only civilian positions at first but may be used to recruit staff with specialist policing powers in the future such as in the area of cybercrime or financial crime, sources said.

The new civilian staff will receive training on how to work as part of a police service and will not be able to transfer to other Government departments.

Contract bids

The Garda is asking recruitment companies to bid for the contract, with a deadline of January 11th. Management hope the new strategy will allow for quicker recruitment and more control over the process compared with the Public Appointments Service which is often viewed by senior officers as cumbersome and slow.

The public tender states the aim is “to ensure that the organisation has the people resources it needs in a timely manner. The requirement is to source, attract and process applications for a range of roles including executive and professional levels, permanent, temporary and contract talent.”

It also intends to use psychometric testing to vet candidates for the positions – another recommendation from the CFP. Psychometric tests are written exercises which evaluate candidates’ mental capabilities and behavioural style.

The Government has established an implementation office to carry out the 157 recommendations of the CFP which is to begin work in earnest this month.

However, Mr Harris has already begun implementing some recommended reforms himself including pausing expansion of the Garda reserve until a full review of its effectiveness and future role takes place.