Concerns over lack of training as half of gardaí can't give chase or use siren

More than half of all front-line gardaí are not qualified to drive with flashing blue lights and cannot respond to emergency call-outs.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) raised concerns around the lack of basic training, claiming it is having “enormous knock-on implications” on how gardaí carry out their job.

The lack of CBD level 2 training was highlighted in 2016 when it was revealed that the garda driving the first patrol car to respond to the gangland shooting at Dublin’s Regency Hotel was not qualified to drive either at speed or with his siren or blue lights on.

More than half of the force is still not permitted to give chase or drive with sirens.

GRA spokesman John O’Keeffe said: “We believe that over 50% of frontline gardaí don’t have the training.

“Short of 5,000 gardaí have this CBD 2 training but many of them will no longer operate cars as they may have moved in their jobs, been promoted, or retired.

“The practical result of this lack of training is that if a CBD 1 level Garda driver in a marked car wishes to stop a suspicious vehicle, they may only flash their headlights in the hope that they will pull over.

They cannot, however, activate their blue lights and sirens and must instead obey all normal rules of the road as would any other driver.

“This has enormous knock-on implications, not least of which is much slower response times to all types of call outs or car pursuits.”

The Irish Examiner requested official figures from An Garda Síochána on April 16. Despite numerous follow-up queries, it had not provided these numbers at the time of going to print last night.

Independent TD Tommy Broughan requested the same figures through a parliamentary question to the justice minister as far back as last June, and submitted similar queries in July, September, and November. He has yet to receive the data.

He recently contacted the Department of Justice and the ceann comhairle about the matter again.

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said:

It’s not an acceptable situation that there would be so many frontline gardaí in core units who do not have this training and who are restricted in their ability to pursue criminals properly.

He said it is often “necessary” to give chase to burglars and others involved in criminal activity and the lack of qualified drivers could curtail the pursuit of criminals.

“The gardaí should release these figures,” said Mr Ó Laoghaire.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said that a majority of gardaí should have CBD 2 training and called on An Garda Síochána to release figures of those who have the training to respond to emergencies.

Mr O’Keeffe said many gardaí are driving at only a CBD 1 level, which is “not training by any stretch of the imagination”.

He said: “CBD 1 is simply an assessment. Drivers must be trained at CBD 2 level if they are to operate flashing blue lights and sirens, and many gardaí operating garda cars are still not trained to this level.”

He pointed out that unlike police officers in Britain, gardaí do not receive pursuit training or any formal response training other than that contained in the Garda Code.

An absence of training in these critical areas does a huge disservice to the general public and the rightful expectations they have on garda response times to deal with any given incident.

While An Garda Síochána failed to respond with official figures, a spokesperson confirmed gardaí with CBD 1 cannot exceed speed limits and cannot use emergency warning equipment while the vehicle is in motion.

Those with CBD level 2 “can engage in answering emergency response calls using police axillaries and are also trained in procedures for the safe stopping of compliant vehicles/drivers”.

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