The challenges gardaí face in combatting crime gangs and their ever-more sophisticated operations are immense.
Crime bosses don’t just know their trade and turf — they know how to use technology to keep their empires running smoothly and stealthily.
Technology has helped make them a fast-moving target, virtually free of paper trails and tangible transactions.
Digital footprints can be avoided and erased with ease.
For the gardaí, that means trying to keep pace not only with new technologies but the uses gangs put them to.
One of the trends they are seeing is for gangs to use encrypted mobile phones. Additionally they change batches of handsets every few weeks. They cost €1,600 each but that’s pocket money to a big league gang and a small price to pay for an efficiently executed drugs delivery or murder.
The Commission on the Future of Policing made many recommendations for overhauling the force, including long-overdue investment in technology and associated expertise.
A four-year implementation plan was drawn up in December to put those recommendations into practice and the first signs of real change are eagerly awaited.
One of the priorities for 2019 was to be IT, but it has to take its place alongside other substantial tasks. This is one that can’t wait four years, however. In the race to prove technological superiority, it’s clear to see who has the headstart.