A confidential telephone line has been set up to allow gardaí to report corruption by other members of the force.
The phoneline is part of a range of measures introduced by the new Garda Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) to tackle misconduct and criminality in the force. Other measures include a new internal anti-corruption education programme, created with assistance from Deloitte, and a planned "integrity network" of gardaí across the country which will support the work of ACU officers.
The measures follow on from findings by the Commission on the Future of Policing and the Garda Inspectorate. Both bodies detailed a range of risks faced by the Garda as a result of corruption, including drug use by members and improper relationships with witnesses or intelligence sources.
The Garda is currently dealing with several major corruption investigations, including suspicions that serving members were involved in passing on sensitive information to members of the Hutch organised crime gang.
Asked what impact recent incidents are having on the morale of rank and file members, Commissioner Drew Harris, who was in Ennis on Monday to address the Clare Joint Policing Committee (JPC), said that he has a basic duty to ensure that the organisation conducts itself well and that people have confidence in members of An Garda Síochána in terms of their treatment of all members of the public.
“At the same time when you are a member of An Garda Síochána going around your duties, it is very stressful to have colleagues that you work alongside that you have a doubt about as well,” he said.
“It is my responsibility to support the vast, vast majority of gardaí doing their job to make sure that they are not working alongside people whose standards are not at the required level.”
The role of the ACU, which was launched last June, is to “proactively prevent, reduce and detect corruption, safeguarding the reputation and integrity of An Garda Síochána,” a spokeswoman told The Irish Times.
“The unit will promote integrity and professionalism through the prevention, identification and when necessary, the investigation of corruption and wrongdoing.”
Since its establishment, a number of supporting initiatives have taken place, including a risk assessment of corruption threats and the drafting of Garda policies on drug use and the “abuse of power for sexual gain”.
The ACU has also set up both an online reporting system and a confidential telephone line “where all Garda personnel can report ethical concerns, in full confidence.”
An independent telephone line, operated by the anti-corruption group Transparency International Ireland has also been established, allowing gardaí to "confidentially report any concerns in relation to ethical, corruption, or criminal matters (including Protected Disclosures)," the Garda said.
The Garda has also launched an internal training programme “to promote integrity and professionalism in An Garda Síochána.” It was developed by the Garda training college and the management consultancy firm Deloitte.
This programme has involved briefings by ACU officers to senior Garda management. Anti-corruption training for all gardaí will continue to take place across “all available platforms”, it said.
The ACU, which comprises less than 30 officers, will be supported nationwide by anti-corruption “liaison officers”. These will be gardaí of Superintendent rank or senior garda civil servants.
These officers will act as a central point of contact for ACU personnel and “will monitor progress on the ground and identify areas where early intervention is required.”
Garda headquarters said it envisions that over time, an “integrity network” will be established across all ranks.
It said it is working towards implementing all of the Garda Inspectorate’s anti-corruption recommendations, and is liaising with the Department of Justice to develop a joint implementation plan.
Garda drug testing is also expected to roll out in the near future. The programme will see 5 per cent of the force, about 1,900 members or recruits, being randomly tested every year.
The introduction of some anti-corruption measures has caused tensions between Garda management and representative organisations, which have claimed they were not adequately consulted beforehand.
The largest organisation, the Garda Representative Association, has said it is not opposed to drug testing but that the manner in which it was announced was disrespectful to members.