Tom Brady: Gun licensing too sensitive to be subject to outsourcing
OUTSOURCING is a policy often adopted by managers who are under financial pressure and have to introduce tough measures to cut costs.
It can work very successfully in some areas but can be counter-productive in other organisations, particularly those handling sensitive issues.
Policing fits into the latter group, and the garda authorities and indeed, the Government, have to be very careful when divesting powers to privately run groups.
Against that background, the remarks made by Assistant Garda Commissioner Donall O'Cualain at a conference in Galway yesterday came as a surprise.
He suggested that in recessionary times duties such as the service of summonses and warrants, the collection of fines, and firearms licensing, could potentially be carried out by other agencies, listed private security firms, trained civilian staff and local authorities.
While it is possible that civilian staff and local authorities could take over some of those tasks, it's a non-runner that private security firms could be given responsibility for executing warrants of handling gun licences.
Apart from the fact that they have no plans to go down that route, it is also clear that if they changed their minds, the garda authorities would encounter legal difficulties and it would require substantive legal change to allow it to happen.