Gardaí to undergo major external audit

An external audit of An Garda Síochána will set out a blueprint for the restructuring of policing at a national and local level.

Gardaí to undergo major external audit

The review, conducted by the Garda Inspectorate and due to be finalised in the coming weeks, will recommend a series of changes with the aim of modernising the force.

These changes are expected to include:

  • Rationalising the number and functions of specialist national and local units;
  • Replacing local policing models with wider divisional structures; n Releasing gardaí from administrative posts to frontline policing, such as community policing and detective work;
  • Replacing the roster system, which is significantly impacting crime investigation and supervision;
  • The creation of an expanded and dedicated cybercrime unit, following concerns from senior gardaí about threats.

The Haddington Road review stems from the Inspectorate’s 500-page ‘Crime Investigation’ report, which was published last November. That report was highly critical of Garda investigation structures and practices, and led to a series of immediate and ongoing reforms of the force.

The review is examining the entire structure, administration, and resource deployment of the force. It is understood that a draft report has been sent to the secretary general of the Department of Justice, within which the Inspectorate is housed, and the Office of the Garda Commissioner for any necessary comments, updates, and corrections.

That process is expected to take a number of weeks, before the report is signed off on and published.

However, the review is not an inspection, like the previous report, and is not as detailed. It is described as more “a roadmap for the future” of the force.

It covers four broad areas: Structure of the organisation; operational deployment; customer service; and communications and culture.

Garda staff associations wanted the Inspectorate to examine the strength of the force, which now stands at 12,763, compared to 14,500 at the start of 2010. The review is not thought to have come up with an answer to this request, partly down to the difficulty in determining the level of demand for policing, in turn due to poor records and IT systems.

The review does look at how other police forces have conducted this assessment.

It is expected to map out a restructuring of how divisions work — the main geographical structure of the force. Divisions house a number of local districts, each headed by a superintendent. Instead of three superintendents each with their own district, for example, the review will favour one superintendent in charge of crime across the division, one in charge of operations, and another responsible for community policing and engagement.

The review will outline measures to get senior gardaí out from behind their desks. It will detail how the estimated 10% of the force doing administrative and non-operational work can be put into community policing (only accounting for 9% of the force) and detective work (10%).

The review is expected to recommend the merging of some national units and the restructuring of other units, including the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Technical Bureau, and other units attached to National Support Services.

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