Fitzgerald plans measures to create a ‘sea change in policing’

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald reacted to the report’s criticisms by announcing measures to address some of the main failings identified.

She promised a “sea change in policing” with a major upgrade of Garda technology, the establishment of a Central Statistics Office-led expert panel to devise new standards for crime recording and new laws on domestic violence. “The inspectorate report raises serious concerns and represents a highly challenging analysis of Garda processes and systems, highlights serious systemic weaknesses,” she said.

“It is vital that gardaí going about their day-to-day policing duties have access to modern systems which will ensure reliable recording of crime.

“The Government and I accept this fully and I am working with my colleague Minister Howlin to secure the necessary and early investment in upgrading Garda technology to bring outdated paper-based practices into the 21st century.”

Acting Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said she agreed with “the broad principles” contained in the report and would work closely with the inspectorate to improve Garda processes, systems and practices as quickly as possible.

She announced the establishment of a Data Quality Team to provide independent oversight of the classification of crime and crime detections but said she also looked forward to working with the CSO on the minister’s planned expert group.

She acknowledged that there was “an inconsistency” in the delivery of services to victims and announced the setting up of Victim Services Offices across the country.

“I want to reassure all victims of crime that we will support them, take their complaints seriously and that all complaints will be investigated,” she said.

She also said she would extend nationally a pilot scheme of risk assessment for domestic violence incidents which would see all injured parties asked to give their views on how their case was handled by the gardaí. “This information will then be used to improve how we respond to domestic violence incidents,” she said.

The acting commissioner welcomed the justice minister’s commitment to upgrading Garda technology.

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Padraig MacLochlainn said the report was a “devastating critique” of the systems within the Garda and an “embarrassment” to the Government. “It reveals that our police service is simply not fit for purpose,” he said. “The Government’s programme of cutbacks was labelled as modernisation and smart policing. That spin has now been exposed for all to see.”

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre welcomed the report’s recommendations that only trained gardaí should investigate sexual crimes and the commissioner’s pledge on Victim Services Offices but said they must be implemented.

Chief executive Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop said cutbacks in recent years meant the centre was no longer assisting with the training of new Garda recruits or follow-up training of serving members.

“Ad hoc training, while it has its benefits, is not good enough. There needs to be a policy commitment to specialist training, particularly when it comes to sexual offences,” she said.

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