Strong, intrusive management needed to achieve Garda reform

Badly needed reform across the Garda will not be achieved by investing in technology that would modernise the force, strong management and leadership were also required, the head of the Garda Inspectorate has said.

Chief Inspector Bob Olson described a recent 500-page report into the Garda arising from his agency’s examination of how the force investigates crime as a “watershed moment” in Irish policing.

“Many of our recommendations depend on the acquisition of modern technology used by most international police services,” he told the Joint Oireachtas committee on Justice, Defence and Equality.

“Technology cannot, however, take the place of strong management practices, intrusive supervision and robust governance in the investigation of crime.”

Mr Olson added while his agency’s examination of the Garda, which was unprecedented in its depth, found “many areas of good practice” this was not consistent across the State.

“A victim of crime anywhere in Ireland should receive the same high-quality service,” he said.

Among the issues identified in the Inspectorate’s report, published last November, into how the Garda investigates crime were:

  • Serious failures in the recording, classification and reclassification of crime incidents;
  • A lack of oversight of the decision making process;
  • An absence of intrusive supervision of crime investigations;
  • Inexperienced gardaí investigating serious crimes;
  • A new roster that does not adequately support the investigative process;
  • Inconsistent approach to updating victims of crime;
  • Lack of IT and equipment to support the investigation of crime;
  • Deficiencies in offender management practices particularly in the taking of fingerprints.

Mr Olson said some of the recommendations made in previous Inspectorate reports had not been acted upon and were reiterated in last November’s release.

“They are now more urgent than ever,” he told the committee.

Many required action not only by the Garda but by the Department of Justice and other justice stakeholders.

“Inefficiencies in the system must be addressed in a holistic manner by regular collective collaboration between all criminal justice partners,” said Mr Olson.