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Monday 24 June 2019

Alarm as gardaí miss almost every single crime detection target set by police watchdog

Source of concern: Chair of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily said the targets set had been challenging. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Source of concern: Chair of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily said the targets set had been challenging. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Gardaí missed almost all detection targets set by the Policing Authority last year, which has been described as a "significant concern" by the oversight body.

Detections for assault, burglary and robbery also fell in 2018, while the number of sexual offences solved was around 50pc below target.

Training exercises to deal with major incidents such as terror attacks were also conducted in only two out of eight regions last year as part of Major Emergency Management.

A number of positives were also highlighted by the Policing Authority, including a rise in identification of the number of paedophiles targeting children online. Last year, 228 suspects and victims of online child exploitation were identified, significantly surpassing the target of 120 for the year.

The increase is part of a significant progress in the area of services to vulnerable victims, with 10 Divisional Protective Services Units rolled out across the country.

The figures were outlined in the 'Policing Authority Assessment of Policing Performance 2018', review of the annual plan set out for An Garda Síochána.

Significant concern has been raised over detection rates, which the authority said is a way of measuring the Garda's capacity to solve crime.

"The fall in detections across all featured categories has been a significant source of concern. Detections reflect the organisation's capacity to solve crime and are imperative in maintaining public confidence in the organisation," the report said.

"Life-saver detections are a key factor in influencing driver behaviour, yet are over 14pc below target for the year.

"Although the reporting of sexual offences increased, detection was over 50pc below target," the report also noted.

Chair of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily said the targets set in the policing plan were "challenging", while adding that more than half of the objectives set out for 2018 were not met.

In her foreword, Ms Feehily said: "The Policing Plan is, by necessity, ambitious and while the targets set by the authority are challenging, they are the outcome of a discussion about what is feasible.

"This is especially the case in a context in which crucial modernisation and reform must be achieved in order to support the delivery of effective policing.

"The process will be immeasurably improved by having, at least indicative, costings or resource commitments in future plans."

The resourcing of cyber-crime functions within the Garda is also a serious concern, with issues around accommodation, resourcing and training exemplified by the failure to enhance the capacity and performance of the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau.

This includes failing to establish a criminal intelligence unit or regional cyber crime forensic units.

Despite a number of controversies in the lead-up to 2018, public trust in the organisation remains at a high level.

Almost 90pc of respondents said they had a mid to high level of trust in gardaí.

Helen Hall, chief executive of the Policing Authority, said the report provided an "external assessment" of commitments to the public being fulfilled.

"While the report reveals many challenges, the Authority, in its oversight work during the last three years has observed considerable improvements, and it will be important that the momentum behind these positive changes continues," Ms Hall said.

Irish Independent

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