Sunday 26 October 2014

Gardai promise end to 'group think' within force

Tom Brady, Security Editor

Published 27/08/2014 | 13:02

THE director of training for the Garda has promised an end to the perceived "group think" in the force.

The focus of the two-year training programme for the first batch of recruits in five years will be on individuals responding to scenarios rather than classroom learning.

Responding to trenchant criticism of the culture within the force in the past, Chief Supt Anne Marie McMahon said the change in approach was aimed at producing gardai, who were appropriate for the policing needs of today.

But she pointed out that the changes stemmed from a review of training report, which was published in 2008, rather than a knee-jerk reaction to the criticism.

A ban on recruitment in the public service has meant that the batch of 100 recruits, who will join up as students at the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary, on Monday week, will be the first to arrive there since May 2009.

The recruits will spend an initial 34-week phase at the college before they are attested as probationers and assigned to stations for on the job training.

The biggest critic of the garda "culture" was Judge Peter Smithwick, who chaired the tribunal into alleged collusion between members of the force and the Provisional IRA, and stated that as a result of that culture, gardai prized loyalty over honesty.

But Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald also demanded urgent and fundamental change in the structure and culture of the force and warned that proposed overarching reforms of the force would not be enough without the fundamental changes in the attitude and approach of each individual garda.

One of the senior officers at the college, Supt Pat McCabe said today during an open day there, that the force had to take criticism on board and apply it.

The new training approach was in response in changes in society, he said.  "We have to evolve with changing times and also have to become more accountable

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