Belfast Telegraph

Plea for patrol cars over internet

Senior gardai have called for patrol cars to be made a priority over internet access for officers.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) said the Government should look at reversing plans to cut the fleet by 385 despite concerns 282 of 703 stations have no internet or secure email.

Agsi deputy general secretary John Redmond said the focus should be on keeping the force mobile.

"Given the financial situation and reducing budgets we are not going to bang the drum on this. We can manage with what we have," Mr Redmond said.

"I think we can pretty much do what we need to do with regard to access to information with what we have.

"To us the priority now would be the essential tools to carry out the functions of policing - the patrol car is as essential as pen and paper. That's what we want to see dealt with."

The Department of Justice revealed 40% of the Garda station network has no internet, prompting severe criticism from Fianna Fail TD Dara Calleary.

Over the last few years every member has been issued with a garda email which can only be accessed in a networked station securely linked to the Pulse computer system. Dozens of officers can only log on at their nearest networked station.

The force is in the process of cutting 286 cars, nine four-by-fours, 36 vans, 51 bicycles and a number of other miscellaneous vehicles from the fleet this year. On top of that 31 stations will be closed and another eight non-operational stations will not reopen.

Mr Redmond said gardai were satisfied with the modern radio system they use and in an ideal world they would want every officer or car equipped with a secure mobile device to access garda databases.

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