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Thursday 23 November 2017

Police forces facing 'truly unparalleled' challenges

Chair Kathleen O’Toole Photo: Collins
Chair Kathleen O’Toole Photo: Collins
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

New policing commission chairperson Kathleen O'Toole has warned that hiving off security and intelligence from the Garda force and creating a new agency could create problems.

Ms O'Toole said the demands placed on police today across the world are "truly unparalleled" as they face terror threats and organised crime against the backdrop of limited resources and changing societies.

She was speaking as the commission tasked with the root-and-branch review of An Garda Síochána held its first meeting in Dublin. It is due to issue a report to the Government about the future of policing here within 15 months.

In the light of the increased terror threat across Europe, questions have been raised over the capabilities of An Garda Síochána to monitor potential threats.

Ms O'Toole told the Irish Independent there were mixed views about suggestions that intelligence should be hived off from policing and a separate agency set up to look after security.

She noted that creating a separate organisation "could have its own problems as well".

"I think it is interesting that there is an unitary police service here with the gardaí responsible for security as well as policing," Ms O'Toole said.

"At the same time, at no point in recent history has it been so clear that sweeping change is needed at a core, systemic level, to the organisational and administrative structures of government and police agencies.

"This is by no means a situation unique to Ireland. Across the UK, Australia, North America and other corners of the world, changing diplomatic, economic and social dynamics are pushing governments and their police agencies to take a hard, critical look at how policing services are delivered and administered", Ms O'Toole added.

In the Dáil, Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed the commission would examine whether a security and intelligence "unit" should be set up separately from the current structure.

Critics of the existing structure want security and intelligence to be split from policing and this would allow for a civilian or a non-Irish commissioner to take charge of what was left in the force.

Irish Independent

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