Policing to get new definition to deliver a 'professional, ethical, modern and effective' service

The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland has proposed “sweeping reform” of An Garda Síochána. 

Sep 18, 2018
By Joe Shine
The Commission on the Future of Policing: (left to right) Sir Peter Fahy, Dr Vicky Conway, Helen Ryan, Dr Johnny Connolly, Dr Antonio Oftelie, Kathleen O'Toole [chair], Noeline Blackwell, Professor Donncha O'Connell, Tonita Murray and Tim Dalton

As part of the reforms, a new framework for national security and the independent oversight of policing was proposed, as well as new measures to deliver a “professional, ethical, modern and effective police service”.  

Chair of the Commission, Kathleen O’Toole, said that after speaking to the Irish public over the past year, it became clear that everyone wanted more officers working in and with the community.   

“They wanted a modern, well equipped, efficient and professional police service,” she added. “It was also clear that the current arrangements for overseeing the police and investigating complaints are complex and confused.”  

Ms O’Toole said communities complained of a lack of “community police visibility”.  

To ensure frontline officers are more visible, the Commission suggested a new district policing model, which would make communities the central focus for the Irish police service. 

And a new definition of policing, which includes community safety and a stronger focus on harm prevention and multi-agency cooperation, was recommended. 

“We recommend that all police service personnel in the districts will be community police,” Ms O’Toole said. “This is the backbone of police work and the police mission.” 

A new approach to Garda training and education, in partnership with higher education institutions around Ireland, was also proposed in the report.   

The Commission recommended mandatory in-service training and career development opportunities, as well as a funded wellness programme for staff.   

Under these proposals, sworn and non-sworn personnel would be recruited directly to An Garda Síochána, while a Garda Access Programme is developed to enable the organisation to “reflect the diversity of Irish society”.  

Ms O’Toole added: “The people of An Garda Síochána are its greatest resource. We have focused on transformative changes that will support those people in serving communities.   

“A more effectively managed police service will instil a culture of professionalism, beginning with recruit training and carrying on through the careers of everyone in the organisation.”

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