Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan announced that at its meeting today the Government endorsed the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and agreed to his proposal to accept all 157 key recommendations (136 in full and 21 in principle). The Minister also published a four year high level plan “Policing Service for the Future” which sets out the approach to implementation which will be overseen by a dedicated Programme Office in the Department of the Taoiseach as recommended in the Commission’s report.
Today’s approval by Government follows three months of detailed consideration by the Department of the report’s findings and recommendations and consultations with the Garda Commissioner, the policing oversight bodies, other Government Departments and agencies.
Speaking at an event with the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, in Kevin Street Garda Station, Minister Flanagan said:
This is an important day for the people of Ireland, and in particular for the men and women of An Garda Síochána. Following an extensive root and branch analysis of policing in its totality by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, the Government has now endorsed the Commission’s clear vision for a modern, highly professional, human-rights-based police service. The core focus is on a Garda organisation working closely and collaboratively with communities and other agencies to keep communities safe and to prevent harm to vulnerable people.
I am convinced this is the right vision for Ireland to maintain and enhance public trust in policing, to address current challenges but also enable An Garda Síochána to meet future challenges. Almost a century after its establishment, the organisation of An Garda Síochána must evolve, and do so in a coherent and strategic manner, to meet the issues confronting 21st Century policing - this plan sets out the blueprint for change.
The Department of Justice and Equality will immediately begin work on a new Policing and Community Safety Bill which will, as recommended by the Commission Report:
- · redefine the functions of An Garda Síochána to include community safety and place an obligation on relevant state agencies to cooperate with An Garda Síochána in relation to the carrying out of that function;
- · establish a non-executive Garda Síochána Board to strengthen internal governance of An Garda Síochána;
- · establish a new independent oversight body to replace both the Policing Authority and the Garda Síochána Inspectorate;
- · provide that the new independent oversight body will strengthen the existing policing oversight function of the Policing Authority and the inspection function of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and have an expanded remit in relation to monitoring and fostering multi-agency cooperation, promoting policing standards, and promoting greater accountability at local level;
- · reform the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission structures and processes for handling complaints/issues in relation to the conduct of Garda personnel;
- · provide for the role of the Minister and his Department in relation to An Garda Síochána and the oversight bodies as recommended by the Commission and in line with the Transformation Programme underway in the Minister’s Department;
- · provide for the Garda Commissioner/Garda Síochána Board to have responsibility for the selection and appointment of senior Garda personnel, subject to compliance with public sector recruitment standards;
- · provide for a broadening of entry routes to the ranks of An Garda Síochána; and
- · provide for any related matters including transitional arrangements.
The Minister also announced key decisions in relation to the State’s security structures:
The Government has accepted the Commission’s assessment that some measures are needed to ensure a better multi-agency approach by the various bodies involved in protecting the State’s security in terms of drawing their intelligence capabilities together. It has approved the creation of the Strategic Threat Assessment Centre (STAC) as a national centre for intelligence collation and analysis to be headed by a National Security Co-ordinator within the Taoiseach’s Department.
The new Policing and Community Safety Bill will redefine policing to explicitly include the prevention of harm to vulnerable people and to provide for a new coherent governance and oversight framework to reflect the Garda Commissioner’s role as CEO. The Bill will ensure strong internal governance through the establishment of a non-executive Garda Síochána Board in line with best practice, and ensure robust, transparent external oversight and effective accountability and ultimately more effective policing.
Full text of Implementation Plan available on www.gov.ie/policingreform