The Policing Authority has today published its Annual Report for 2018. The third year of its existence, 2018 saw the Authority develop and deepen its assessment of the Garda Síochána, and its evidencing of this assessment. It added rigour and evidence to the hallmarks of its oversight, namely transparency and persistence.
Commenting on the launch of the report, Policing Authority Chairperson Josephine Feehily said:
“By the end of 2018, the Authority had exercised or examined all of its statutory functions. Stand-out aspects of 2018 for me were the review of domestic homicide investigations, because of the need for persistence; the Garda Cultural Audit, because of its importance in capturing Garda voices; and the quality of engagement by the Garda Síochána with the Authority regarding aspect of the Youth Diversion Programme.
The challenges faced by the Garda Síochána in serving the community are very evident. Important changes in structure and staffing, supported by new technology, are underway in the Garda Síochána this year and the Authority looks forward to constructive engagement with the Garda Commissioner as they are rolled out.”
Oversight of the Garda Síochána’s implementation of the Policing Plan continued to be at the centre of the Authority’s oversight work. Two reports on Garda Síochána performance against the annual Policing Plan and two reports on the progress made by the Garda Síochána in implementing organisational change were published. Significant work carried out by the Policing Authority in 2018 also included oversight of Garda Síochána reviews including those of domestic homicide, and referrals under the Youth Diversion Programme. The Authority’s oversight work is intrusive and persistent and involves site visits, meetings with Gardaí, Garda staff and a broad range of other stakeholders to evidence policing performance. The committees of the Authority and the Authority itself had significant engagement with the Garda Síochána on these topics. There were 15 meetings of the Authority in 2018, five of which were held in public and live-streamed. In addition, the Policing Authority gathered together key stakeholders for a public event on the Garda Síochána Cultural Audit and this event was live-streamed.
In 2018, the Policing Authority nominated Drew Harris for appointment by the Government to the role of Garda Commissioner following an extensive recruitment process. This appointment made history as it was the first time that such a nomination had been made by an independent body. Selection competitions were held in 2018 and panels were established for the ranks of Chief Superintendent and Superintendent.
2018 saw the publication of the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and the subsequent Government announcement of a programme of policing reform. The Authority made an extensive submission to the Commission and will continue to advise the Minister and his officials as work to implement the Commission recommendations proceeds.
The report of Mr. Justice Charleton was another very important feature of the policing landscape last year. The Authority welcomed his recommendations and his exhortations regarding the obligations of Gardaí which resonated well with the Garda Code of Ethics established by the Authority.
Looking ahead, the Policing Authority will shortly announce the recipients of its inaugural Research Bursary Scheme. The Authority has welcomed two new members, and published a Strategy Statement for 2019-2021. The Policing Priorities for 2019 have been approved by Minister Charlie Flanagan and a new competition to select Garda Superintendents is due to be announced in the coming days. The next meeting in public between the Policing Authority and the Garda Commissioner will take place on 26 June 2019.