Suite of recommendations made to Policing Commission; Calls for victim support, garda training

Visible community policing, supporting victims of crime, and better training for gardaí are among the key recommendations made to the Policing Commission by the public and organisations.

Other requests include better Garda governance structures, more coherent oversight, and deeper engagement with minority groups.

The Commission on the Future of Policing is tasked with conducting a fundamental review of policing and drawing up a blueprint for a future system.

The expert group, established in May 2017, is due to report in September, around the same time that the next commissioner is expected to be appointed.

The commission has completed its public consultation phase and is now examining all its material and, during the summer months, will begin the process of drafting its report and considering its recommendations.

It held 11 public meetings — in Cork, Galway, Athlone, Limerick, Carrickmacross, Carrick-on-Shannon, Waterford, and Letterkenny, as well as several in Dublin.

It received 317 written submissions from organisations and individuals, including An Garda Síochána, policing bodies, political parties, human rights organisations, victims’ rights groups, community bodies and policing fora, joint policing committees, serving and retired gardaí, Garda representative associations, and political representatives.

The commission said it had held hundreds of bilateral meetings with relevant organisations, including the Criminal Justice Steering Committee, Policing Authority, Garda Ombudsman, Garda Inspectorate, Defence Forces, Public Appointments Service, Department of Public Expenditure, senior Garda management and frontline members, Criminal Assets Bureau, academic experts, youth justice services, community groups in Limerick and Dublin, and the New Zealand police service.

In a statement, the commission said themes raised throughout, included:

  • Importance of strong visible community policing;
  • Need for coherence across all agencies involved in protecting communities;
  • Need for stronger organisational governance;
  • More coherent oversight framework;
  • Deepening meaningful engagement with minority groups;
  • Supporting victims of crime;
  • Importance of garda training.

The commission has been given broad terms of reference by the Government.

It has grouped these into five key areas: Culture and ethos; leadership and structures; recruitment and training; governance and oversight; and legislative framework.

The issues were reflected in the written submissions. Of the 317 submissions: 163 relate to the role of policing; 82 refer to recruitment, training and professional development; 48 are about leadership and structures, 34 relate to technology and digital innovation; and 27 refer to governance, oversight, and accountability.

The commission also attended a live anti-terror exercise, Operation Skipjack, conducted by Gardaí and the Defence Forces at Shannon Airport on March 20.

Members of the commission were due to meet the Oireachtas justice committee and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday.

The commission is headed up by Kathleen O’Toole, the departing chief of police in Seattle.


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