Frontline gardaí believe they should no longer be called out to deal with minor road traffic accidents, so-called drive-offs by non-paying drivers at petrol stations, or alarm calls from companies.
In its submission to the Policing Commission, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said the Garda Reserve is “unsuitable” and wants an independent review of it.
The Policing Commission, which published its blueprint for policing last month, has put submissions to it on its website, although in blacked out 11 pages from the submission of An Garda Síochána in relation to security and intelligence.
The GRA said it was strongly opposed to direct entry into An Garda Síochána at senior officer level — which the commission has proposed.
The staff association said it would be a “damning reflection” on the organisation, would “send out a stark signal”, and negatively impact on morale.
It said talent should be identified and fostered inside the force and that consideration should be given to removing the promotion process from An Garda Síochána to an independent assessment.
The Policing Commission has proposed that promotion of senior officers should be removed from the Policing Authority and given to the Garda commissioner.
In its 71-page submission, the GRA said the practice of deploying gardaí to minor road traffic accidents (resulting in material damage only) “should be discontinued” except in certain cases.
It said it is a “time-consuming activity” considering the number of incidents.
The association said the deployment of valuable and scare resources for so-called drive-offs (where motorists leave forecourts without paying for fuel) should be examined. It said gardaí, Government, and the retail industry should address the matter and suggested a pre-pay system.
The GRA said the practice of gardaí responding to automatic alarm calls from companies should also be reviewed.
It called for clear policy and protocols with the HSE in relation to frontline gardaí dealing with, and often detaining, people who are mentally unwell.
The association said it had “strong views as to the unsuitability of the Garda Reserve” — which the Government and Garda HQ plan to expand to 2,000, from its current 600, by 2021.
The GRA said community policing had been “neglected and has now lost its focus”. Both it and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), in its submission, said every garda should be a community police officer, a proposal with which the Policing Commission agreed.
Last week, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said there would be specialised community gardaí in urban areas with a hybrid model in rural areas, where members would be community gardaí and responders.
AGSI said separating community policing from the overall policing function was “causing confusion”. It said more “on-the-ground supervision is vital”, adding that “sergeants have become administrators”, thus preventing them from doing outdoor supervision. It said senior management was taking a “hands-off approach”.
Both associations raised concerns over garda accommodation. The GRA said Macroom Garda Station, a district HQ, was “effectively a fire trap”, with hallways cramped with lockers and one toilet for 18 female staff.