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Saturday 10 December 2016

'Two-tier' community policing favours Dublin over rural divisions

Philip Ryan, Jim Cusack and Tom Brady

Published 10/12/2015 | 02:30

Frances Fitzgerald
Frances Fitzgerald

The Garda Inspectorate has criticised what it branded a "two-tier" community policing system in Ireland which sees the vast majority of community gardai deployed to Dublin at the expense of rural communities.

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In a highly-critical report, the Inspectorate found there is a disproportionate number of gardai assigned to community policing in Dublin divisions compared to rural communities.

Garda Inspectorate chief inspectorate Robert Olson also revealed that Taoiseach Enda Kenny's constituency of Mayo and Kildare currently have no full-time community policing officers.

There are currently 540 gardai assigned to community policing out of the force's total manpower of 12,866.

Some 328 of those community gardai work in one of the six Dublin divisions, with 117 assigned to one division alone.

Elsewhere in the country, 14 garda stations have 10 or fewer community police on duty.

Even more worrying, the Inspectorate's report found An Garda Siochana is using technology more than 30 years out of date.

Specifically, the Garda computed-aided dispatch technology was described as a "1980s vintage computer system".

The Inspectorate also found some garda stations are still recording emergency 999 calls using paper rather than computer systems and one-third of the force do not have external email. There is also a four-year backlog to examine computers confiscated as evidence in child sex abuse and serious crime investigations, and the delay is leading to the collapse of court cases.

The damning 'Changing Policing in Ireland' report found just one-tenth of the force on patrol on a typical Saturday night at 11pm - a time when it expected more manpower would be on duty.

It also found a "culture of blame" and said gardai are afraid to admit mistakes over fear of the consequences.

There is also a perception among gardai that the recruitment process is "unfair, lacks transparency and did not always ensure that the best candidates were selected".

The Inspectorate recommends gutting the layers of senior managers in the force which would see the number of assistant commissioners reduced from 13 to eight.

"There are too many supervisors at headquarters and in non-operational roles to the detriment of front-line supervision," Mr Olson said.

He also urged Garda management to hire more civilians to allow deskbound gardai to take up operations duties.

However, senior security sources last night said they were very concerned at the proposals and insisted the ongoing recruitment campaign was the most effective way to increase garda visibility within the community. They also dispute claims new work rosters have meant there are more gardai working on Tuesday nights than on Saturday nights.

The chief inspectorate did not criticise Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan who he said is "not sitting on her hands" and is working towards addressing the failings in the force.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald welcomed the report. Mr Olson and Ms O'Sullivan will attend a special Cabinet meeting next week on justice reform.

Irish Independent

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