Monday 16 December 2019

Garda chiefs tell officers they must use €30m radios

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Guinness Storehouse - the visit would not have taken place without the garda digital radio service.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Guinness Storehouse - the visit would not have taken place without the garda digital radio service.

Tom Brady and  Louise Hogan

Gardai have been directed by senior officers to make full use of their expensive communications system, which is a key aid to the force.

The nationwide digital radio service has pushed the force into a new communications era, according to gardai.

One senior officer said the visit here by Queen Elizabeth in 2011 would not have been given the go-ahead without it because of the security it provides.

However, senior officers are concerned that not all of the 15,000 handsets distributed to garda stations and individual members are being fully used.

They have underlined the crucial role the handset now plays in their job.

The potential cost of the system in subscription charges is estimated at around €30m a year, although the gardai would not comment on the annual payout because the figure is "commercially sensitive".

But it was pointed out that where a handset is not in use, it can be temporarily deactivated to avoid subscription charges.

Gardai signed an eight-year contract with Tetra Ireland in 2009 and it will be reviewed in 2017. The service was first rolled out in the Dublin metropolitan region in June 2009 and a nationwide service was completed on schedule in March 2011.

The system was also used to improve the co-ordination, command and control of other major events such as the visit of US president, Barack Obama and the G8 summit last year.

It also increases protection for garda officers on operational duty as the handsets have emergency "single push" buttons, which allows a control room to pick up the signal and determine the location of the garda, if there are problems.

The automatic vehicle and personnel location system not only ensures the safety of gardai but can help efficient deployment of resources through GPS tracking. It is much more secure than analogue radio systems against eavesdropping.

Irish Independent

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