Belfast Telegraph

Gardai fail to achieve over half of its commitments – Policing Authority

The Policing Authority said it raises questions about the development of the plan and whether or not it was realistically achievable.

Expansion of the garda workforce continues to be a concern (Niall Carson/PA)
Expansion of the garda workforce continues to be a concern (Niall Carson/PA)

The gardai failed to achieve over half of its commitments set out in last year’s policing plan, a report has found.

The Policing Authority said that most of these commitments were off target by June last year, while many were off as early as March.

In a report published on Thursday, the authority said it raises questions about the development of the plan and whether or not it was realistically achievable.

The annual policing plan sets out the Garda Siochana’s commitments to the community regarding the policing service it will deliver in that year.

The annual report reveals the garda efforts to change policing in Ireland.

The failure to deliver an HR strategy and a training and development strategy at a time of significant recruitment and increased training demands is of particular note Policing Authority

The authority said it has significant concern around the lack of progress with key projects and strategies and the failure to meet the majority of incident and detection targets.

It said that detections are an area of concern with “little sense of progress” being made to improve detection levels.

Expansion of the garda workforce continues to be a concern with recruitment of garda staff and reserves falling significantly short of target.

The report found that important strategies, critical for the organisation, were not finalised and this impacted on the development of areas such as community policing, hate crime, diversity and the garda reserve.

“The failure to deliver an HR strategy and a training and development strategy at a time of significant recruitment and increased training demands is of particular note,” the report added.

It also found the development of regional services for Cyber Crime and Economic Crime continues to be under-resourced.

“This indicates a more generalised point, that planning has to consider the full breadth of the resources required to bring these commitments to fruition, including accommodation and finance,” the report added.

“The planning process and culture within the garda needs to mature.

“The authority has observed improvements over the past three years, and it will be important for this trend to continue.

“The development of future plans, and the flow of resources and organisational effort, must be underpinned by a more rigorous approach to decision making and project approval that is supported by evidence and driven through effective leadership.”

The authority, which independently assesses the force, sets out the evidence to which commitments are fulfilled.

While the report outlines some of its concerns, it also highlights significant progress that has been made in the area of services to vulnerable victims, with 10 Divisional Protective Services Units rolled out across the country.

Policing Authority chief executive, Helen Hall said the report provides transparency on the garda’s policing performance.

She added: “It provides an external assessment of the commitments made to the community and outlines the degree to which the authority believes those commitments were fulfilled.

“While the report reveals many challenges, the authority, in its oversight work during the last three years has observed considerable improvements and it will be important that the momentum behind these positive changes continues.”

The authority praised the force for exceeding targets in identifying suspects and victims of online child sexual exploitation.

There was a decrease in the incidents of burglary, and last year was the lowest year on record for road fatalities.

The report shows that a number of measures targeting organised crime groups improved, including firearms seizures, money laundering investigations and executions of European Arrest Warrants.

A number of key ICT projects designed to deliver important capability to the organisation were also progressed, including the Investigation Management System and the Rosters and Duty Management System.

PA

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