More than 80% of sergeants, inspectors have ‘no idea’ on reforms’ effects

Agsi say almost nine out of 10 personnel do not know changes will impact roles in future

A total of 1,820 Garda sergeants and inspectors were surveyed, all of them members of Agsi, and 802 responded. Photograph: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A total of 1,820 Garda sergeants and inspectors were surveyed, all of them members of Agsi, and 802 responded. Photograph: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

 

Almost nine out of 10 Garda sergeants and inspectors have “no idea” how the reforms currently underway with the force will affect them, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has said.

It has carried out research into its members’ views on Garda reform, with the findings suggesting a disconnect between the reform programme and frontline members of the force.

The same finding was made by the Policing Authority in a report published by the Department of Justice last week. The authority said the reforms had not “landed on the frontline” and believed the Garda was still struggling to reform, despite a willingness among many individual members to do so.

It now appears the Garda’s middle managers feel removed from the reforms, do not believe they will be funded properly and many do not know how the reforms will change Irish policing and their role in it.

Agsi has released the findings of its survey at its annual delegate conference in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan.

Almost one in five members said they were “not familiar at all” with the transformation project, with 70 per cent saying they were “somewhat familiar with it”.

Over one third of sergeants and inspectors said they were “not familiar” with the report from the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and its implementation place. Some 56 per cent said they were “somewhat familiar” with it.

“In fact, 88 per cent don’t know how it will impact their role in the future,” Agsi said of the commission’s report and implementation plan for embedding the reforms recommended.

“Their main source of information comes from Agsi or media reports, followed by canteen chatter,” the association added.

Capacity to change

A total of 1,820 Garda sergeants and inspectors were surveyed, all of them members of Agsi, and 802 responded.

Agsi said its members “don’t feel adequately prepared” for implementing the reforms “in terms of time and training”. Some 65 per cent of respondents said “they do not have the capacity for change”.

The survey also found 90 per cent of members believed there would be inadequate investment by Government in the Garda’s reforms and 80 per cent said they had no knowledge of pilot projects already underway.

“Overall the transformation programme is still somewhat of a mystery to members and there is fear, uncertainty and low confidence levels about the future of the job and how they can practically implement new initiatives,” Agsi noted in its presentation of the survey.

The association also took comments from its members as they responded to the survey, with one saying Garda were being sent emails that they must read and then “tick boxes”.

“It’s not proper training in many cases. It seems that once the email is sent everyone is covered in my opinion,” the member added.

Another respondent said: “We all want to be part of a modern police force but making changes for the sake of it without full backing and forethought is only going to make members go against such changes.”

The Policing Authority last week issued its final appraisal report on the Garda’s modernisation and reform programme. While that programme has now been superseded by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland report, the Policing Authority expressed concern about the Garda’s capacity to reform.

It said there was no vision about how the reformed force would look and frontline members were not invested in the reforms.

“The frontline [gardaí] feel disconnected from this work,” the Policing Authority said in what was a worrying finding coming a time when a reform programme has been underway for a number of years.

“And despite efforts by the centre to communicate the work being undertaken, in the absence of tangible outcomes for Garda members, staff and reserves this had not been effective.”