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Teams of gardai sent abroad for hostage training

GARDA negotiators who may have to deal with crazed gunmen in siege situations have been sent as far as Japan for training.

Two negotiators also trained in 2008 in Scotland and London, two more attended an international conference in Belgium in the same year and one underwent training in Scotland last year.

A course was held in the Garda College in Templemore last year, while one garda attended an International Negotiators Working Group in Tokyo in December last.

The Garda Inspectorate had recommended that negotiators -- like those used in recent siege and hostage incidents -- "should take every opportunity to access training at home and abroad in the interest of adherence to leading edge practices".

The Inspectorate, reviewing progress of its recommendations, said in a new report that radio communications at barricade incidents should be recorded when the technology is available. The gardai said it was contingent on the development of the Garda's National Digital Radio Project.

"Roll-out of the new national digital radio system was completed in the Dublin Metro- politan Region in the third quarter, 2009. National roll-out is on schedule for completion in 2011."

The Inspectorate had recommended that a wireless loudspeaker system should be procured and gardai said an initial negotiation kit had been bought, in addition to field phones.

"A number of wireless loudspeaker systems used by other police forces have been tested and rejected.

"It is expected that a wireless loudspeaker system will be procured and in use by the first quarter of 2010," gardai said.

The Inspectorate had recommended that covert surveillance equipment particularly suited to siege situations should be acquired, and gardai said that "technical equipment has been acquired and is under constant review".

The report also notes that there are currently 32 trained on-scene commanders for siege situations, with 22 of them of superintendent rank. The rest are inspectors "who were chosen for the course because of the regularity of their attendance at scenes".

The report also says that two specially trained dogs have been acquired by the gardai and two members of the Garda Dog Unit are trained in their use.

"Training with Emergency Response Unit personnel is continuing."

Four on-scene command vehicles for barricade incidents are now available and one will be maintained by the ERU.

Bulletproof shields are also available to the ERU, while all frontline gardai are equipped with incapacitants and pepper spray, the report noted.