Mountain of work faces those on policing commission

There can be little doubting the credentials of many of those on the new policing commission.

There is even less doubt as to the mountain of work ahead of them.

So who are the 12 shapers of our future police (and possibly security) service?

Dr Vicky Conway is an academic with deep knowledge of policing, including ethics and culture, as well as the law. A prominent member of the Policing Authority, she brings an awareness of the workings of Garda HQ.

Another promising appointment is that of Dr Johnny Connolly, who has conducted extensive research over many years on policing, crime, drugs, and communities.

He will bring both street knowledge and strategic analysis that will be crucial.

He has extensive contacts in disadvantaged communities, a plus given the absence of a community activist on the commission.

Noeleen Blackwell’s role as former head of the Free Legal Advice Centre and as current director of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre provides both a socio-economic/justice insight and a victims’ perspective. She is also a human rights lawyer.

Bringing renowned human rights expertise is Professor Donncha O’Connell of the School of Law at NUI Galway.

Completing the legal/policing credentials from an Irish perspective is the appointment of Conor Brady, a former commissioner with GSOC. His experience of dealing with Garda HQ should be a major benefit.

Bringing international police experience is Peter Fahy, who has served in five British police forces and chief constable in two, including Greater Manchester.

As well as the operational experience, he is likely to have a key influence on the complicated question of separating policing and security as he was national police lead for the Prevent counter-terrorism programme.

Tonita Murray is an international police development consultant and Dr Antonio Oftelie is an international leadership adviser. They are joined by management consultant Eddie Molloy and businesswoman Helen Ryan.

There is no garda voice (serving or former), but we do have a former Department of Justice boss, Tim Dalton.

Between the chair, US police chief Kathleen O’Toole (former head of the Garda Inspectorate), Dr Conway, and Mr Brady, the knowledge and insight of the three oversight bodies will be at hand.

That will be needed given the colossal job of synthesising existing (and forthcoming) policing reports and identifying gaps.

The terms of reference are so extensive that you would wonder can the commission do its job within 16 months.

The terms are also heavy on structural/management/systems issues.

It is up to members to balance higher-level issues with concerns and realities of the street.

There are plenty of reasons to doubt the commission’s task, but more reasons to wish it the best.

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