Shock at number of guards trained to drive with sirens

The revelation that just over 2,300 gardaí have been trained to drive with sirens and flashing blue lights in the past six years has been described as “shocking” and a “disservice to the general public”.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) said it is “simply incredible” that the majority of frontline gardaí cannot respond at speed to emergency call-outs.

Responding to Independent TD Tommy Broughan, who submitted questions on Garda driver training a year ago, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed that 2,303 members of the forces have completed competency based driving (CBD2) since 2012, with 72 of those successfully completing the training so far this year.

The lack of CBD2 training was highlighted back in 2016 when it was reported that the garda driving the first patrol car responding to the gangland shooting at the Regency Hotel in Dublin was not qualified to drive either at speed or with his siren or blue lights on.

The GRA has highlighted the lack of basic training, saying it is having “enormous knock-on implications” on how gardaí carry out their job. It said figures showing the vast majority of gardaí are not properly qualified are a “shock”.

CBD2 driver training is meant to be delivered to the vast majority of frontline gardaí, allowing them to drive the majority of patrol cars and patrol vans available to them. It establishes an underpinning knowledge of roadcraft, and practical instruction in vehicle handling, defensive driving, emergency response driving, and vehicle stopping,” said GRA spokesman John O’Keeffe.

“This lack of driver training does a huge disservice to the general public and the rightful expectations they have on Garda response times to deal with any given incident in a safe and professional manner.

"There would be uproar if this lack of continuing training were absent in any other job or profession, such as accountancy or law. Yet where it matters to all our safety — within our own police force — this situation has been allowed continue.”

While 3,245 gardaí have completed basic CBD1 training since 2012, this does not allow them to exceed speed limits and they cannot use emergency warning equipment such as sirens and blue lights.

Mr Flanagan said there are five levels of competency based driving courses, with level four necessary to drive high-powered vehicles and level five providing training of Garda driving instructors. He said no such courses have been undertaken in 2015 up to the present.

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