‘Immediate’ publication of Garda survey still awaited after two weeks

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has not yet published a Public Attitude Survey almost two weeks after the Policing Authority said it should be published “immediately”.

It comes as the commissioner, accompanied by Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, attends the Garda College at Templemore today for the passing out of the next batch of probationary gardaí.

The request by the Policing Authority was contained in the hard-hitting statement it issued on May 26, following its private meeting with the commissioner over the O’Higgins report.

In that statement, the authority expressed its “serious concern” at the impact on victims and the “systemic” management failures documented in Mr Justice O’Higgins inquiry. It expressed its “dismay” at the “familiarity” of the failures and its “deep unease” at the organisation and management culture.

The authority said it needed to hold two public meetings with the commissioner due to the “urgency” of the matter.

It said that, in the meantime, “the commissioner was advised” to take a number of urgent measures, including: “The Garda Síochána Public Attitude Survey which has been referenced in many meetings should be published immediately”.

At the first public meeting between the authority and the commissioner, on April 25, the authority, including its chairperson Josephine Feehily, called for the survey to be published.

Gardaí last night indicated the survey was expected to be published within the next week.

On May 9 last, in response to a previous query from the Irish Examiner, a spokesman for An Garda Síochána said its publication was apparently imminent.

In its May 26 statement, the authority also called for the publication of the Garda Síochána Protected Disclosures policy “at the earliest possible date”.

It also told the commissioner that she should engage an external provider to carry out an “independent culture audit”.

Reasons for the delay in publishing the survey are unclear, given some of its contents have been publicly referenced by management.

At the April meeting, Gurchand Singh, the civilian head of the Garda Analysis Service, said the survey had found that public confidence and trust levels in the force stood at 85%, with a satisfaction rate of 70%.

He said the lowest rate was among 18 to 24-year-olds, at 64%, which he said was still “very high”.

An external company was awarded a contract in 2014 to conduct quarterly public attitude surveys for An Garda Síochána, but none have been published to date. The most recent survey on the Garda website is from 2008.

The commissioner’s next public meeting with the authority is next Monday.


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