A review of the first five years of the Policing Authority has found that delays in receiving information from an Garda Síochána remain a challenge for the oversight body.
The review says that, while the authority has generally been provided with the information it requested, “significant delays are not uncommon”. It says that the situation has improved in recent years, but further improvement is needed.
The authority, however, welcomes the higher quality of information coming from the force more recently, in particular its engagement with the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on crime figures.
Potential for improvement
“The act of establishing the Policing Authority itself changed the policing landscape significantly and during its first five years of operation, the authority has established itself as an effective oversight body,” the review says.
It points to its achievements in holding the force to account through its performance framework, improvements to Garda appointments and staffing, and the commitment to public engagement throughout its work.
But the authority adds that it is aware of the potential for improvement, and that it has not yet brought detailed scrutiny to bear in all areas of its remit.
An example is CCTV, where it believes its obligations in this area do not fit well with its remit. The review says legislation being proposed by the Department of Justice is “a more appropriate legislative instrument” for such oversight by the State’s institutions.
“While relationships with Garda Síochána senior management have improved, the authority notes concerns in respect of its relationship with garda representative bodies, and in particular the rank-and-file and middle-management grades,” the review says.
The body says it is “keenly aware” of the perception that it has been unfairly critical of the Garda Síochána and its staff, and has pledged to work to address this issue.
Authority chair Bob Collins (pictured) said that, although not everything was perfect, it was difficult to envisage a return to the world of policing before 2016.
“It has been established beyond question that independent oversight of policing is now integral to our public life, that the value of an external voice that explores, engages, encourages and evaluates the purpose and practice of our policing service is clear beyond doubt,” he said.