If Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has not asked himself the what-am-I-doing-here question, this week’s report from the Policing Authority may move it from his ‘possible’ file to his ‘pressing’ file. The authority found a number of senior officers were unfamiliar with the policing plans for their areas. How can this be? The report also found that some managers were committed to these reforms, which raises another unpalatable question: Why is this two-tier response tolerated?
The authority also rejected a view, apparently widespread within the force, that the force is no more dysfunctional than any large organisation and that dissatisfaction is a legacy of austerity. The report expressed “considerable” concern with the continuing fall in crime-solving. There was a 20% fall in the number of motorists caught speeding, despite an additional 150 officers in the Roads Policing Unit.
That these findings are published in a week that another report showed that one guard was paid €76,450 in allowances last year, and that the top overtime payment hit €64,017, must colour the response. It also shows how unwise the capitulation on pay was some years ago.
Gardaí are probably as sick of criticism as the public are amazed at how our police undermine their own credibility. It is a situation exacerbated by the recent kerfuffle in the ASGI annual conference. As anyone who cares for this society and our police force understands, this cannot go on.