Phone app will give gardai link to crime records while on the beat
Gardaí are developing a state-of-the-art mobile phone app that will allow members to access criminal records while patrolling communities, the Irish Independent can reveal.
The plan is part of a massive overhaul of garda technology and will be a major boost for the force, after several damning reports criticised the organisation's outdated systems.
It can also be revealed that a steering group, established by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, was recently told that the Government needs to invest more than €100m in new policing technology to bring An Garda Siochana in line with other advanced police forces around the world.
The department is hoping to receive some of this much- needed funding when Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin announces his capital investment spending plans next month.
Part of the investment will be used by garda management to role out a mobile phone app that will allow gardai on patrol access records.
A version of the app was recently piloted by gardaí working in Ballymun, north Dublin, and garda experts are currently reviewing the project.
Currently, gardai ring in details of incidents to the Garda Information Service Centre (GISC) and the details are then entered into the PULSE system.
It is expected that the system will be introduced in the coming year as part of a renewed effort to bring the force into the modern era.
A new dispatch and human resource system will also be introduced which will allow garda management to target crime hotspots and ensure resources are being allocated to communities most in need of policing.
A new case management system will also be rolled out, which will be more accessible to gardai throughout the country.
It is hoped the new technology will be integrated and lead to more sharing of information between garda divisions. The force hasn't received a major investment in technology since the PULSE system was introduced more than 15 years ago.
"There's no across-the-board digitalisation of work. It's not an organisation working in the digital era, so a substantial investment is required," a source said,
In recent years, several Garda Inspectorate reports have criticised the force's over-reliance on paper records and called for immediate investment in modernising garda technology.
Even at the height Celtic Tiger years, the inspectorate called for an upgrade of garda computer systems.
However, the garda scandals of last year brought greater focus on the force's failure to properly record crimes and highlighted the system flaws that allowed some crimes to fall through the cracks.
Minister Fitzgerald established a steering group to identify the medium and longer-term garda ICT requirements.
The group - chaired by the recently appointed chair of the policing authority, Josephine Feehily - has reported to the minister and advised that more than €100m should be invested.
The report's findings will form part of Minister Fitzgerald's submission to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, seeking capital investment on behalf of An Garda Siochana.