The Policing Authority has raised concerns about the implementation of a long-awaited system for assessing work performances within An Garda Síochána.
The most recent published minutes of a Policing Authority meeting, including a private meeting with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, shows members expressing concern regarding:
Plans to introduce a performance and accountability framework (known as Palf) have been ongoing for the last six years, following a system piloted back in 2012, but implementation has been riddled with delays.
The Garda Inspectorate, the Policing Authority, and the Policing Commission have called for the introduction of such a system.
In its landmark 2015 Changing Policing in Ireland report, the Garda Inspectorate said: “How personnel are tasked, the assessment of their skills, and whether they perform to standards is not currently measured within the Garda Síochána.
“The Garda Síochána cannot operate to true effectiveness and efficiency if it does not set objectives and measure the performance of its employees.”
In April 2017, the Policing Authority said in a report to the justice minister that arrangements for the introduction of Palf were under way.
“Following numerous postponements, the implementation of Phase 1 of Palf is reported as currently on schedule for 2017.
“The committee has discussed Palf with the Garda Síochána on several occasions and has consistently emphasised the importance of its implementation.
“At its most recent meeting with the Palf business owner and senior management, the committee was informed that training in the operation of Palf has commenced across the supervisory ranks and the system itself will commence in the third quarter 2017.”
The minutes of the private meeting with the commissioner on October 23 stated: “The commissioner acknowledged that engagement with Palf has been patchy and slow to date but that, as with the Code of Ethics, it will be mandatory from January 2020 and engagement will be a prerequisite to promotions and other career opportunities.
“In response to members’ questions, the Commissioner confirmed that there is no resistance to the system at senior levels.”
The Policing Authority is due to publish a review of 2019 today, marking the last event under the chair of Josephine Feehily. The Government is implementing a recommendation of the Policing Commission to set up a Policing and Community Safety Oversight Commission (PCSOC), to supersede the two existing oversight bodies.
The Department of Justice has said legislation providing for the establishment of PCSOC is being prepared with a view to the new body being in place in 2021.
It is appointing a chair for a one-year period from January 1, 2020 and has invited authority members, all appointed through the Public Appointments Service, to express their interest.