The Policing Authority has strongly criticised the lack of leadership in An Garda Síochána in implementing civilianisation — a key recommendation of the Garda Inspectorate.
The authority said Garda HQ has, so far, only been able to identify 161 Garda posts capable of being reassigned to civilians.
In a report to Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, the authority said that this “falls far short” of the 1,500 target set by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate in the landmark ‘Changing Policing in Ireland’ report, which was published in November 2015.
The authority questioned the ability of the Garda Modernisation and Renewal Programme (MRP), published by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan in June 2016, to implement all of the recommendations of the inspectorate.
In its second report to the Tánaiste on the gardaí’s implementation of the inspectorate’s recommendations, the authority said:
The authority said that progress within the MRP was “uneven” and that the monitoring of the 86 recommendations was “a matter of some concern”.
Civilianisation, which is outside the MRP, was the authority’s most pressing concern. “Progress on the process of civilianisation has been disappointing and frustrating,” it said.
It said what while gardaí had initially indicated a starting point that 801 positions could be held by civilian staff, an initial census of all Garda members only identified 161 posts capable of being civilianised.
The authority said it was “very disappointed” and added: “This calls into question the quality of engagement with the idea of civilianisation within the Garda Síochána and the depths of commitment across the organisation to its achievement.”
It said there was a “need for leadership” and that the signs suggested it “does not currently exist”.
The authority said: “There is reason to be apprehensive that the aspiration to achieve the inspectorate’s target of 1,500 (which has not been displaced by any robust evidence provided by An Garda Síochána) will be achieved without a great deal more energy, leadership and local and regional commitment to what is a Government decision and an organisational priority.”
The report said there had been less progress on the recruitment of already sanctioned staff than hoped, including in human resources and information technology and this was “particularly difficult to understand”.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved