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PJ Browne: This is an insult to rank and file

THE MOVE to provide gardai with rental cars is worrying, if not downright insulting, to officers charged with tackling serious crime.

Bear in mind the officers who will use these cars will not be doing an easy job.

They will be involved in the monitoring, pursuit and capture of serious armed criminals. They require fully kitted-out vehicles.

It's unclear to what extent the hired cars will be fitted with such necessary equipment, but however much they're kitted out they are no replacement for a State-owned squad car.

Furthermore, when these cars are handed back to the rental company, there may a security concern. We've seen in the past how criminal gangs have sought the numbers of official garda vehicles. It would be worrying if a criminal spotted a car that had been carrying out surveillance on him for a month driving by weeks later with a holidaying family inside.

The gardai on the front line are provided with patched-together equipment, but rest assured senior officers will continue travel to their official functions in fully-liveried official State cars.

Mind you, given the quality of men and women I served with in my role as chief of detectives in the south inner city, I can assure the public the standard of policework will remain the same.

Our gardai will always provide a full and professional service, even if the State that employs them is happy to cut corners.

I wonder if the Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, is being ferried around in a rental car? Somehow, I don't think so.

PJ Browne is a former detective superintendent with over 35 years' experience policing serious crime