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Modernisation and Renewal Programme

On the 9th June 2016, An Garda Síochána launched its five year programme to professionalise, modernise and renew the organisation to ensure it can meet present and future policing and security challenges.

The changes in the plan have been prioritised to ensure the greatest community impact and provide the best supports for Garda members, staff and reserves to enable them to work efficiently and effectively in delivering the national policing and security service.

An Garda Síochána’s Modernisation and Renewal Programme (2016-2021) will result in:

  •  Increased visibility of Gardaí equipped with the tools, training and resources they need to do their jobs
  •  Preventing crime will now be An Garda Síochána’s number one priority
  •  Victims placed at the heart of the Garda service
  •  Enhanced collaboration with national and international partners to tackle and disrupt terrorism and organised crime
  • Advanced IT systems introduced to enhance the investigation of crime
  • The hiring of civilians with the right skills and placing them in the right roles to enhance the professionalism of the organisation and increase Garda presence in the community
  • The make-up of the service will be more representative of the diverse communities it serves.   

It will also see a renewal of Garda culture, a focus on living up to values, and listening to and learning from the experience and expertise of our partners. There will be a major focus on strengthening the governance of the organisation and enhancing risk management.

Further initiatives include:

  • Introduction of multi-skilled Community Policing Teams in every District. Community Policing Teams will be made-up of Gardaí from a number of different units who will work with the local community to prevent and detect crime
  • Gardaí on patrol able to access a wide-range of real-time information on mobile devices
  • An Investigations Management System will enable the electronic management and tracking of all tasks and information related to an investigation from crime scene to Court
  • Expansion of use of technologies such as CCTV, ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition), and introduction of face in the crowd and shape in the crowd biometrics to identify key criminal and terrorist targets
  • Strengthen our investigative capability in areas such as economic crime, cyber crime, and sexual and child abuse
  • A significant restructuring of the organisation that will see regional officers given greater responsibility to make decisions based on the policing needs in their areas
  • Increased investment in training and development of our people so we can attract, develop and retain the best people – this will include the introduction of a 24/7 Counselling Service, greater promotional opportunities, improved internal communications, and a skills database to ensure we have the right people with the right skills in the right places. 
  • Specialist units will be set-up to meet the increasing challenges of cyber security. Expansion of the work of the Computer Crime Investigation Unit to tackle cyber crime with regional units introduced.

Over €200m has been secured to invest in advanced ICT systems so our people can spend less time on paperwork and more time among local communities. We will make more use of data and technology to prevent and detect crime. New systems will ensure we have the right people in the right places at the right times, and provide a better response to calls for service from the public.

A number of changes under the programme have already happened. For example, the bringing together of expertise in specialist areas such as drugs and organised crime, and in sexual crime and domestic violence; working closer with criminal justice partners to identify and manage repeat offenders; establishing 28 dedicated Victim Service Offices; substantial investment in new vehicles, and introducing a new multi-strand approach to tackling key crimes.

The plan is based on feedback from employees and the community. It also takes into account the Government’s reform agenda, and key findings from the reports into the organisation over the last number of years by stakeholders such as the Garda Inspectorate and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. In addition, as police services around the world are facing the same challenges, change programmes conducted by police services in the US, New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the UK, as well as those by public and private sector bodies have been studied.

An Garda Síochána’s Modernisation and Renewal Programme is available on Garda.ie. 

Comment from Commissioner O’Sullivan on the 9th June:

“An Garda Síochána has a proud tradition of serving communities and protecting the State. We have over 16,000 dedicated and committed Garda members, staff and reserves who make a real difference to the lives of people throughout this country every day. Our people regularly go above and beyond the call of duty to protect our communities, tackle criminality, keep our roads safe, and maintain national security.

“A modern, effective and properly functioning police and security service is the cornerstone of a democratic, progressive society. Every day we contribute to making the country a better place to live, work and visit.

“However, we must continually adapt to meet the needs, expectations and challenges of a modern society. We must also remain agile and responsive to meet the emerging threats of an ever changing policing and security environment.

“To ensure we are in a position to do this we have spent a lot of time listening and learning.

“Listening to communities, to our people via face-to-face meetings and our internal staff survey, and to our critical friends.

“We have taken this information and identified how we can build on our strengths, while rigorously addressing areas for improvement. We have prioritised the changes to ensure the greatest community impact and how best to support our people to do their job.

“The result is a major five year programme that will result in policing services being delivered in a different way.

“What will not be different, however, is our commitment to all of our communities. We cannot do our job without their trust and support. Maintaining and building on our strong tradition of community policing will be at the core of this plan.

“We have already introduced changes that benefited communities. But it is only the start. The next five years will see An Garda Síochána become a 21st Century police and security service the people of our country can be proud of and our people can be proud to serve in.”

Executive Summary of An Garda Síochána’s Modernisation and Renewal Programme

The Modernisation and Renewal Programme published today has 13 chapters outlining the key changes to be introduced over the next five years in the areas of:

- Garda culture
- Victims of crime
- Community Engagement and Public Safety
- Preventing Crime
- Crime Investigation
- Roads Policing
- National Security and Organised Crime
- Cyber Security and Cyber Crime
- Governance and Structure
- Supporting our People
- Partnerships and Collaboration
- Technology
- Communications

Our esprit de corps, close ties to communities and dedication to service are key to our corporate culture and will continue. However, weaknesses in culture as identified by various tribunals and by the Garda Inspectorate demand a sea change in this area, with attention to corporate culture demonstrated at every level from training of new recruits upward.

The mechanisms for cultural change are in motion and we are committed to ongoing measurement to establish that we are professionalising our service, improving performance, reducing bureaucracy, empowering our workforce and demonstrating empathy, honesty, accountability and respect at every interface, internally and externally.

Weaknesses in governance, oversight and accountability will be addressed. We will be supportive of our people and listen to their concerns and ideas.  The hiring of civilians with the right skills and placing them in the right roles will enhance our professionalism. Our workforce will be more reflective of the society we serve. We will listen to and learn from the experience and expertise of our partners.

Victims of crime will be put at the heart of the Garda service. 28 Victim Services Offices across the country will inform victims as their case progresses through the justice system. A specialist unit will ensure each child protection, domestic and sexual violence complaint is thoroughly investigated and victims are fully supported. We will meet or exceed the requirements of the EU Victims Rights Directive and the Istanbul Convention on Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

A new community policing model will enhance community engagement and public safety. New Community Policing Teams will work with local communities to prevent and detect crime in their locality supported by Community Safety Fora made up of local Gardaí, members of the public and community groups.

Crime prevention will become our number one policing priority. Improved data analysis will ensure patrols and checkpoints go to areas affected by particular crimes. We will work closely with public and private sector partners to reduce the opportunities for crime and re-offending. We will provide impactful and engaging crime prevention advice. We will ensure high Garda visibility in communities.

The organisation’s approach to crime investigation will be transformed. From the moment a crime is reported to the point at which it is in front of the Court, we will have the systems to effectively manage the process. From ensuring the right resources are deployed to the incident, to systematically cataloguing evidence seized, to monitoring the many threads in the investigation, to electronically managing case files to presenting the evidence in Court. As well as digitising the investigate process, we are enhancing the investigate skills of all our members.

While we have one of the best road safety records in Europe, more needs to be done to reduce the number of deaths on our roads. We will expand our use of technology such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and mobile safety cameras. Mandatory Alcohol Testing and multi-agency checkpoints will be increased. Education and awareness activity will be enhanced. The Garda Traffic Corps will be strengthened and its function redeveloped into the Garda Roads Policing Unit to also tackle the use by criminals of the road network.

An Garda Síochána has developed considerable experience in identifying, disrupting and suppressing threats from domestic terrorism. To protect our national security from new and emerging threats, we will increase the sharing of information and intelligence with our national and international partners. We will continue to train with those partners to ensure we are ready to deal with dynamic threat situations. We will proactively investigate the activities of those suspected of involvement in terrorism including those who benefit from or fund crime and terrorism. We will continue to engage with minority communities who may feel vulnerable due to worldwide events.

New strategies have been developed to meet the ever increasing challenges of cyber security and cyber crime. On cyber security, specialist units will be set-up to liaise with international partners on current and emerging threats, and to provide cyber and forensic tools to support front line policing and State security. We will also work with Government agencies to protect national infrastructure. On cyber crime, we will expand our capabilities in this area through training with academic partners, increased investment in technology and people, and regionalisation of the Computer Crime Investigation Unit.

This strategy outlines major changes to the governance of the organisation. We will reduce and streamline administrative and bureaucratic structures. Regional officers will be given greater responsibility to make decisions based on the policing needs in their areas. We will be transparent, open and demonstrably accountable. Leaders throughout the organisation will create an environment in which people can learn and develop.

Our approach to HR will take a quantum shift to ensure our people have the right skills, tools and resources to do their jobs effectively. We will provide them with the leadership, guidance and support to deliver this programme. We want to attract, develop and retain the best people by providing them with career development opportunities. This will see an increase in our investment in training, and opportunities for lateral movement and promotions. Supports will be introduced to help protect the physical and mental health of our people.

The benefits of recent investments in vehicles and the recruitment of additional Gardaí are already being seen in communities. The new building and refurbishment programme for 30 stations will help provide appropriate working conditions for our people.

An Garda Síochána cannot solve the problems of crime, fear and public safety alone. These can only be fully addressed through productive partnerships. We will work with our criminal justice partners, non-State bodies, community groups, and businesses to prevent and detect crime. Our human rights partners will help ensure that we continue to embed human rights principles in all our activities. We will work constructively with our oversight bodies to improve the service we provide, and liaise closely with agencies such as Interpol, Europol and the FBI on global threats and crimes.

Information is the lifeblood of any police service. Technology is critical in supporting policing activities. Over €200m has been secured to invest in advanced ICT systems so our people can spend less time on paperwork and more time among local communities. Members on patrol will have access to real-time information on mobile devices enabling them to react quicker to events. We will make more use of data and technology to prevent and detect crime. New systems will ensure we have the right people in the right places at the right times, and provide a better response to calls for service from the public.

Communications plays a key role in building trust.  Our new Office of Corporate Communications will radically improve our information flow to key stakeholders. Based on successful models in other police services, it will incorporate the Garda Press Office, PR, marketing/public information campaigns, corporate information, and internal communications. Some channels, such as Garda.ie will be revamped. Some, such as our social media offerings, will be extended. We will produce more of our own video content to highlight crime prevention investigation and public safety.

An Garda Síochána and the Scott Medal