Sunday 26 March 2017

Gardai 'quite defensive' during discussions on change in An Garda Siochana - Oireachtas Committee hears

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Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

THE Garda Inspectorate has said there is a resistance to change in An Garda Siochana.

Speaking before the Oireachtas Justice Committee, senior members of the inspectorate said gardai were “quite defensive” during discussions on changing how the force operates.

However, Inspectorate deputy inspector Mark Toland said when “new concepts” were explained to garda management they became more “open to new structures”.

The Inspectorate was appearing before the Justice Committee to discuss the publication of its recent report Changing Policing in Ireland.

Speaking to the committee, Inspectorate chief inspector Robert Olson said the report found “ineffective structures struggling to cope with the modern demands on garda services”.

Mr Olson said the current division and districts structures is “highly ineffective” which is impacting negatively on the deployment of resources.

He said gardai in many areas are not on duty at the right time in the right places.

He said there is a two-tier community policing system which sees a disproportionate number of gardai based in Dublin compared to rural divisions.

“At public meetings attended by the Inspectorate, community members reported a noticeable reduction in garda visibility,” Mr Olson said.

The inspectorate found deficiencies in “governance, accountability, leadership and supervision” in the force, according to Mr Olson.

“The current garda culture is inhibiting change. While staff identified positives such as a ‘can do’ culture and a sense of duty, many described the organisation as insular, defensive, with a blame culture where many leaders are reluctant to make decisions,” he added.

The Inspectorate also said issues around untrained garda drivers need to be urgently addressed.

Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins said Inspectorates report showed there is  “obviously a chronic problem" in An Garda Siochana.

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