Friday 9 December 2016

Pay row threatens plans to modernise Garda force

Published 10/06/2016 | 02:30

General secretary John Jacob said that while they welcomed the programme, there could be no positive reform in the organisation until gardaí were paid appropriately for the job. Photo: Keith Heneghan
General secretary John Jacob said that while they welcomed the programme, there could be no positive reform in the organisation until gardaí were paid appropriately for the job. Photo: Keith Heneghan

Major plans to modernise the garda have been cast in doubt by officers locked in an ongoing dispute about pay.

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As revealed in yesterday's Irish Independent, CCTV cameras with facial recognition capabilities are to be rolled out across the country as part of a major €200m overhaul of how gardaí tackle crime.

And there will be new onboard computers for Garda cars to allow better surveillance and identification of suspects.

They are among a series of initiatives outlined yesterday by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan and her senior management team as they published a five-year modernisation and renewal programme.

But within hours of its publication, the programme encountered its first opposition from officers who remain disgruntled over pay.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors announced that its membership would not co-operate with any reform programme until a satisfactory conclusion had been reached on long-running pay issues.

General secretary John Jacob said that while they welcomed the programme, there could be no positive reform in the organisation until gardaí were paid appropriately for the job.

He said the announcement would include at least 100 reforms, which would add greatly to his members' workload.

But it is understood that major reforms will still be able to progress on a national level.

Ms O'Sullivan said: "We need to make sure that the Garda is a beacon of 21st century policing and that other police forces will come here to look at what we do.

"We have taken a lot of hits in recent times for having what was described as an insular and defensive culture. We have to change that culture.".

As part of the fight against cyber crime, a new national cyber security desk will be created at Garda headquarters to boost co-operation with international partners such as Europol, Interpol, and other security and police organisations.

The gardaí are developing a broader strategy with key partners to block attempts by rogue states and crime gangs to target this country for a major on-line assault.

Dedicated

The computer crime investigation unit is also being restructured and put under the control of a dedicated detective superintendent and two inspectors.

One of its first tasks will be to eliminate a backlog of cases that build up through a "lack of investment in technology and resources".

Regional computer crime investigation units are being set up to provide computer forensic services locally.

It is intended that every garda on street beats and mobile patrols will have access to crucial information with over €200m secured to invest in advanced IT systems.

Gardaí admit that many of their IT systems in the past are 20 years out of date.

Irish Independent

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