Friday 18 January 2019

New centre to assess terror threats among reforms of policing

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A NEW centre to assess threats like terrorism and coordinate national security is to be set up after a 'root and branch' review of the gardaí.

The Cabinet has signed off on the establishment of a new Strategic Threat Assessment Centre (STAC) led by a National Security Coordinator within the Department of the Taoiseach.

A new independent oversight body is to replace both the Policing Authority and the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and there are to be reforms to the structure of the Garda Síochana Ombsudman Commission watchdog.

Officials at the Department of Justice are to immediately begin work on a new Policing and Community Safety Bill which for the implementation of recommendations made by the Commission.

Among other measures this will include are the required legislation to provide for body-worn cameras for Garda members and to codify search, arrest and detention powers.

The reforms will give the Garda Commissioner the power to to select and appoint senior personnel, subject to compliance with public sector recruitment standards.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said that ministers have signed off on an "ambitious" four-year plan for the implementation of the recommendations.

Mr Flanagan said the government has endorsed the report of the Commission and agreed to accept all 157 key recommendations - 136 in full and 21 in principle.

He said legislation will be needed to introduce the reforms.

A target of 2022 - the centenary of the establishment of the Gardaí has been set for implementation.

The Commission had recommended that a new Policing and Community Safety Oversight Commission (PCSOC) should supersede the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and the Policing Authority and take on most of their functions as well as some new ones.

The Policing Authority had raised concern about this recommendation.

This evening the Authority noted the government's decisions regarding the implementation of the Commissions report, most of which it had "whole-heartedly welcomed".

The Authority said it will continue to carry out all of its functions in relation to independently overseeing Garda performance including making senior appointments, setting policing priorities and performance standards and advising the Minister for Justice and Equality.

"Based on the reported timeline, this will be necessary for some considerable time," it added.

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