Number of gardaí trained to drive with sirens on set to fall
GRA says lack of adequate driver training is a serious problem for rank and file members
The level two course includes training in vehicle handling and emergency response driving. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
The number of gardaí receiving training to allow them drive above the speed limit and use their sirens is set to fall significantly this year, new figures show.
Last year 425 gardaí received competency based driving (CBD) level two training, but only 72 gardaí had undergone the training this year, up to the end of April.
The training allows gardaí to drive at speed to respond to call-outs, and without it gardaí are not permitted to use their sirens, or drive above the speed limit.
Based on the current trend around half as many officers will undergo the vehicle training this year, compared to 2017.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has said the lack of adequate driver training is a serious problem for rank and file members of the force.
A spokesman for the GRA, John O’Keefe, said the delays training gardaí involved in vehicle patrols was “simply incredible.”
A large number of gardaí were driving on CBD level one training, which is an initial assessment of driving capabilities, Mr O’Keefe said.
Frontline gardaí driving patrol cars without CBD level two, “have to sign a document promising not to exceed the speed limit at any time, and that they will not turn on their sirens or flashing lights,” he said.
“We have been calling for some time now for management to remedy this very serious situation,” he said.
The level two course includes training in vehicle handling and emergency response driving.
In 2017, 693 gardaí received CBD level one training, this figure dropped to 43 up to May this year. The figures were obtained following a parliamentary question from Independents4Change TD Tommy Broughan.
Since 2012, 2,303 gardaí have taken CBD level two training, and 3,245 received CBD level one training over the same period, according to the figures.
The Garda press office did not respond to a request for comment on the figures, at the time of publication.
Another issue is officers driving on “chief’s permission”, which is where gardaí who have not completed the standard driving training are permitted to drive Garda vehicles, on the permission of their chief superintendent.
In June 2017, Mr Broughan asked the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan how many gardaí had been driving on “chief’s permission” each year, since 2012.
Mr Flanagan responded to the parliamentary question last Friday, more than a year later, to say it would take a “disproportionate amount of staff time” to collect the figures, as they are held locally by each Garda division.
“As such it is not possible to provide the information requested,” he told Mr Broughan.
Between 2013 and 2016, some 361 gardaí driving on chief’s permission were involved in road traffic accidents, according to figures previously released to Mr Broughan.