Ex-PSNI chief heads top Garda unit

Ex-PSNI chief heads top Garda unit

Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Roberts. Picture: Garda.ie

A former PSNI chief appointed last month to the rank of assistant commissioner in An Garda Síochána has been handed the sensitive remit of the Garda Anti-Corruption Unit.

Jonathan Roberts was attested to the organisation and appointed as assistant commissioner by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris after being approved by the Policing Authority at the end of July.

As reported in the Irish Examiner, he was one of three new appointments to assistant commissioner.

The other two successful candidates were Chief Superintendent Eileen Foster, divisional commander for Kerry and Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary, head of the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau.

AC Roberts joins An Garda Síochána directly from the PSNI, where he most recently held a dual role as head of learning and development and professional standards including anti-corruption.

He has also acted as temporary assistant chief constable, Operational Support Department.

The Policing Authority oversaw the recruitment process, which was run by the Public Appointments Service. It is understood Commissioner Harris sat on the interview boards.

Announcing the appointment, Commissioner Harris said: "Jonathan has a wealth of organisational and operational experience that will be of immense benefit to An Garda Síochána as we continue to improve the service we provide."

AC Roberts will formally take-up the role of Assistant Commissioner, Governance and Accountability on the retirement in October of Assistant Commissioner Patrick Clavin.

A Garda statement said AC Roberts has held roles including district commander for Belfast, head of the PSNI College, and superintendent for performance, assurance and justice in Belfast District.

Earlier in his career, he was the head of Belfast-based Major Investigation Teams, following on from extensive experience in serious crime investigation, including leading the investigations into several high-profile murders.

He has more than 26 years of policing experience.

He will have overall responsibility for the Garda Anti-Corruption Unit, which was one of the flagship projects of Commissioner Harris since he took over in September 2018.

Chief Superintendent Johanna O’Leary is the head of the ACU and reports to AC Governance and Accountability.

The ACU, formally established in November 2020, has produced an overarching Anti-Corruption Policy, the Professional Boundaries and Abuse of Power for Sexual Gain Policy, as well as the Substance Misuse (Controlled Drugs) Policy.

Most of the actual anti-corruption investigations are still conducted by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations, which traditionally had the role and has built up considerable experience.

As revealed in the Irish Examiner last June, Garda HQ is looking to significantly expand the powers of the ACU, including new laws to give it the legal authority to run undercover investigations to test gardaí for corrupt behaviour.

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