Sunday 21 July 2019

‘Deficits’ in Garda public order policing, report finds

‘Deficits in risk assessment and its absence is a significant organisational risk,’ said report author Chief Inspector Mark Toland.

The report was compiled by the Garda Inspectorate (Niall Carson/PA)
The report was compiled by the Garda Inspectorate (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, Press Association

A report into public order policing in Ireland has found a number of deficiencies.

The report, compiled by the Garda Inspectorate, told a Policing Authority meeting that public order response by An Garda Siochana requires serious improvement.

“Deficits in risk assessment and its absence is a significant organisational risk,” author of the report Chief Inspector Mark Toland said.

“Whilst we found good examples of good public order policing, risk and planning is absent in An Garda Siochana,” Deputy Chief Inspector Hugh Hume, co-author of the report, added.

Garda use of force needs external oversight, tactics and use of equipment should be closely monitored Deputy Chief Inspector Hugh Hume

A controversial eviction in Dublin’s North Frederick Street last September was highlighted a number of times throughout the report, where risk assessment was not carried out.

Organisations such as Amnesty Ireland and the Civil Liberties council condemned the Garda’s actions after a private security company forced their way into a property to evict tenants after a court order.

The Garda Riot Squad and the Public Order Unit were present at the eviction, which escalated, saw activists arrested, and videos quickly went viral on social media.

The report found that the Garda can handle planned events effectively through public order policing, but spontaneous events have caused issues due to lack of risk assessment.

“Garda use of force needs external oversight, tactics and use of equipment should be closely monitored,” DCI Hume added.

“We recommend an internal body to review use of force and performance monitoring activities.”

The report noted there are no Garda members dedicated to full-time public order duties, and members from outside Dublin are sometimes brought in without any previous experience.

The report found that responsibility for choosing candidates lies with supervising officers and inconsistent approaches were adopted.

There is no process to monitor gender breakdown and female involvement is low at 5%-8%, which in similar districts such as Scotland is common, however other forces have programmes in place to remedy the issue.

“We recommend a standardised process for public order duties be implemented,” DCI Hume added.

“Including strong female role models in public order roles.”

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said he accepted the lack of gender parity, and he would move to introduce a new HR system to apply for roles.

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We had a process where people were selected and plucked out for this function, but it would be far healthier if they could’ve applied, and that’s where we want to move to.”

The report also found that many events are not debriefed in lines with policy.

A structured debrief should involve staff from other departments including Corporate Communications, and the external event organisers.

The report identified 19 recommendations, with a concentration on developing greater focus on human rights and risk assessment.

Mr Harris accepted almost all of the report, and said it was a “firm foundation for us to move forward”.

“We’re very aware we’re a European capital city and a national policing service and we must be in position to respond to spontaneous incidents,” he said.

“We do agree with the risk assessments, the methodology of that, and that will be considered by our senior leadership team.

“I want to be positive about the report. It’s a good piece of work and we’ll get on now with the implementation of that.”

Assistant Commissioner David Sheahan said the force had developed an implementation plan and by the end of this year 90% of the recommendations will be implemented in full.

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