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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Garda bosses accused of 20 years of failure

Robert Olson: Many staff view the Garda force as insular, defensive and operating with a blame culture. Photo: Joe Boland
Robert Olson: Many staff view the Garda force as insular, defensive and operating with a blame culture. Photo: Joe Boland

Greg Harkin

Gardaí have suffered two decades of costly failure to implement recommendations, the head of the Garda Inspectorate has said.

Robert Olson, the chief inspector of the organisation, laid bare a litany of failures.

He also said management of the force needs to change, telling the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, last night: "The current operational culture is inhibiting change and preventing the Garda Síochána from reaching their full potential.

"Many staff view their organisation as insular, defensive and operating with a blame culture, that results in leaders that are risk-averse in making decisions."

Olson, a former police chief in the USA, said his most recent report was given to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald last December.

"If the recommendations contained in this report are implemented, An Garda Síochána will achieve best practice and be in a position to set international standards for policing," he said.

But he warned: "During this review, the Inspectorate noted that a significant number of the recommendations made in one form or another in previous Inspectorate and other government-sponsored reports over the last two decades have not been implemented."

He said if a report recommending change published in 1997 had been implemented, "the Inspectorate is of the opinion that many of the previous policing issues that resulted in inquiries, tribunals and government reports could have been minimised or avoided".

Mr Olson said he believed at least 1,500 gardaí are in non-operational posts that can be released for front-line duties.

"This does not include gardaí who are currently working at front desks, control rooms and looking after those detained in garda stations," he said.

He said the Inspectorate has found some policies that are well thought-out and well-written. "But the policy is not transferred into good service delivery," he said.

"We found that those policies are not always implemented properly. Many new policies come without any training or direction and many units do not have supervisors.

"We found limited evidence of governance from headquarters to make sure policies are complied with.

"Potentially, hundreds of thousands of valuable members and garda staff hours are being wasted all across the country on inefficient administrative and investigative processes."

He said a 10pc increase in performance would increase the level of police service provided to the country by 1,000 employees without hiring anyone.

Irish Independent

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