Friday 24 November 2017

Progress on replacing some Garda roles with civilians 'disappointing'

The Policing Authority has been tasked with monitoring and assessing the implementation of the Garda Inspectorate’s 2015 ‘Changing Policing in Ireland’. Stock picture
The Policing Authority has been tasked with monitoring and assessing the implementation of the Garda Inspectorate’s 2015 ‘Changing Policing in Ireland’. Stock picture

Cormac McQuinn and Kevin Doyle

The Policing Authority has said Garda progress on civilianisation of non-frontline roles in the force has been "disappointing and frustrating".

The criticism was made in a report by the authority to Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

The authority noted that Garda authorities have so far identified as few as 161 members in posts that could see them replaced by civilians. That's far short of a 1,500 target set by the Garda Inspectorate.

Separately, the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (Pac) chairman Seán Fleming said he expected information on the tax affairs of the controversial Templemore Training College to be provided by gardaí today.

The Policing Authority has been tasked with monitoring and assessing the implementation of the Garda Inspectorate's 2015 'Changing Policing in Ireland'.

Its latest report to Ms Fitzgerald says progress on civilianisation "has been disappointing and frustrating with little progress made with regard to the key tasks of developing a workforce plan".

In March, An Garda Síochána undertook a census of members to see how many could be replaced by civilians so they could return to frontline duties.

The authority said the initial results identified 161 posts nationwide as capable of being reassigned to civilians. Its report to Ms Fitzgerald said that while it is a preliminary result, "the authority is very disappointed with the outcome".

Skills

It falls short of the 1,500 target and at least 800 staff identified in an earlier analysis of the payroll. The report said: "It calls into question the level of engagement with the idea of civilianisation within the An Garda Síochána."

According to the authority, gardaí have identified a lack of human resources skills and capacity as "impediments to the development of a workforce plan".

The report added: "However, this has not been accompanied by any concerted push to recruit skills in these areas, despite there being sanction in place to do so."

The authority said it would continue engagement in the coming months on the release of Garda members to policing duties.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil TD Mr Fleming has said he expects gardaí to provide more information on the tax affairs at Templemore today, amid the PAC's probe of financial irregularities at the college.

On Wednesday, the Pac heard that An Garda Síochána has five tax numbers - one for the force overall, one for Sportsfield - a company linked to the College - and three more for the restaurant, bar and shop at Templemore.

Garda chief administrative officer Joseph Nugent could only say the force was "in discussions" with Revenue about four of the five accounts when asked if they were all tax compliant.

Mr Fleming said the PAC gave the officials a day to provide more information. He added: "We expect to have it before the weekend. We want those matters clarified as urgently as possible."

Irish Independent

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