Analysis: This report is a shocking indictment of Garda management
The latest and possibly most important independent report on the history of An Garda Síochána is a shocking indictment of its management.
Asked yesterday where Ireland's police are in technological terms, the Garda Inspectorate said the force was "30 years" behind the times, the terms "vintage" and "rudimentary" being used to describe some of the computers and systems still in use.
That places present-day garda technology in the era where the pager just began to give way to the new-fangled 'mobile' phone - the ones that weighed the same as and looked like builders' bricks.
The 400-plus-page report is unremittingly bad news for Garda management, none of whom will make any public comment.
The Inspectorate did a study of how many gardaí are actually on the beat, that is outside their offices, at two points in the week: at 11am on a Tuesday and 11pm on a Saturday. Ex-London Met officer Mark Toland said that on the Tuesday there were some 877 gardaí actually out on duty outside stations in the entire country.
On the Saturday night, when the streets are filling with drunks, the number is 1,377. That is out of a total force of 12,882.
The 'Changing Policing in Ireland' report launched at yesterday's press conference, noted that the force doesn't have a cyber crime unit.
Without saying as much, the Inspectors clearly believe that a clean sweep of management is needed.
Management practices are themselves an "inhibitor to change", Chief Inspector Robert K Olsen said.
He observed that changes of the magnitude and scope envisaged in the report would probably only take place in the event of the establishment of a Garda Authority, removed from and independent of the control of governments, which have failed to implement any worthwhile change in the force.
The Inspectorate was at pains not to tarnish the reputation of ordinary gardaí.
"It is not the rank and file. They are doing their best. There are some wonderful people out there and people should be proud of them," Mr Olsen said.