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Sinn Féin sets out its vision for reform of Policing – Ó Laoghaire

16 February, 2018 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin has published its submission to the Commission on the Future of Policing.

Sinn Féin TD and Justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said that the Commission on the Future of Policing need to show significant ambition.

The Cork South Central TD said:

“We are at a critical juncture in relation to policing and the future role of An Garda Síochána. Regrettably, public confidence in An Garda Síochána has been shaken by scandal after scandal, controversy after controversy, including the inflation of Mandatory Alcohol Tests, financial irregularities at Templemore, and most of all, the failure to support whistleblowers.

“So, the Commission on the Future of Policing is Critical, and like Patten Commission in the north, it must address issue of Public Confidence. The plan produced and implemented going forward is not something we can afford to get wrong.

“However, if it is successful and properly implemented, it is possible to deliver both a radical new departure in policing policy and a policing service which enjoys a high degree of public confidence, trust and esteem.

“Sinn Féin believes that everyone is entitled to policing that serves the people, that serves the Community as a whole. Since the introduction of the Garda Síochána Act in 2005, we have seen significant changes in how the structures of policing operate in the state. However, some of those changes have been piecemeal, and incomplete, and a great deal more is needed.

“We have outlined in our submission how we would like to see the oversight bodies have much greater powers, including full capacity for the Policing Authority to Hire, and remove from position Senior officers.

“The policing Authority must also have a much more direct role, in directing and guiding Garda Policy, including in the allocation of its budget.

“It also should not need the consent of the Minister for any of its functions, and we would propose expanding the Policing Authority to 21 to make it more representative, and to take in Political Representation.

“The Policing Authority has now begun the process of recruitment of a new Commissioner. Our view that this appointment is a process that should not be rushed, should be comprehensive, and that the appointment of a new Garda Commissioner, ideally from outside of the state, with a proven track record in the area of reform, is crucial to ensure far reaching reform of An Garda Síochána in its entirety.

“Our submission contains 77 specific Recommendations, which we feel are essential to the historic transformation of Policing in Ireland.

“Some of our key recommendations to the Commission are:

       ·         GSOC needs to be fully empowered and independent, it must be given the right to make unannounced visits to Garda stations, its access to PULSE must be placed on a statutory footing, and it should have power to investigate retired Gardaí, if it is in public interest to do so

o   Serving officers of An Garda Síochána should not be seconded to GSOC and it should have powers of investigation in respect of the work of the Garda Commissioner.

      ·         We support the establishment of a Criminal Justice Inspectorate, replacing the Garda Inspectorate and cover all policing and justice related agencies.

     ·         We do not support the separation of the Gardaí in to two Policing Bodies. We believe in a Unitary Police force, with a single Garda Commissioner above it.

      ·         We want the Commission on consider extending the application of the Freedom of Information Act to the Garda Síochána.

      ·         The establishment of a Criminal Justice Inspectorate, replacing the Garda Inspectorate and cover all policing and justice related agencies.

      ·         The next Commissioner should be somebody from outside the jurisdiction that has no connection to the ongoing controversies or current An Garda Síochána structures.

      ·         Reverse the reduction in Community Gardaí, and bring the number from 744, back up to 2010 levels of 1,200, and a return to the principles in ‘The Community Model of Policing’

       Note: Please see the document attached

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