Tuesday, 18 November 2014
Garda Inspectorate Reports
99. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality her response to the recently published report on the conduct of investigations into serious crimes by the Garda Inspectorate; if she has specific proposals to deal with issues raised; if she expects to implement all or most of the recommendations contained therein; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43792/14]
This question relates to the recently published report of the Garda Inspectorate into the operations of An Garda Síochána, the extent to which the Minister proposes to implement all or most of the recommendations, and the extent to which, in the course thereof, recognition will be given to the tremendous work done by An Garda Síochána over many years in very challenging circumstances.
Last week, I received the report of the Garda Inspectorate. It is a very detailed report with more than 500 recommendations. It is suggested in the report that these recommendations are short, medium and long-term. Clearly, we need mechanisms to implement that report, and there are a variety of ways in which that report will be implemented. They include, in the first instance, establishing the type of expert group that the Garda Inspectorate said should drive this process, so I intend to establish this expert group very shortly.
Another recommendation that was made related to the statistics that are currently gathered and dealt with in PULSE. There were some concerns about reclassification. I have asked the CSO to carry out a review. It has suggested carrying out a review of the entirety of entries on PULSE - around 1 million - so that it can look not just at a sample, as the Garda Inspectorate did, but at 1 million entries, analyse them and see how much of the reclassification in the report is matched when one examines the overall entries. This will be very important to ensure confidence in the system.
The Cabinet justice sub-committee will also monitor the reforms that are under way, including those recommended in the Garda Inspectorate report. Obviously, the report will play an important role in the ongoing reform we have announced, which includes the establishment of the independent policing authority, strengthening the powers of GSOC and the current recruitment of the Garda Commissioner.
A range of actions need to be undertaken. The gardaí have announced a series of initiatives that are already under way, including a data quality unit. When crime statistics are being reported, the gardaí will provide more specialist staff to work with civilian staff. I believe this would make a difference as well. It is a very wide-ranging report and there are things we can do immediately. The investment in technology will be a very important part of the response as well.
I compliment the Minister on her detailed reply. Does he anticipate the implementation of a time limit for the various changes that are likely to take place? Over what period of time will they take place? Is it likely to take cognisance of the challenging circumstances within which An Garda Síochána has had to operate over a number of years?
One of the immediate priorities is to have a comprehensive plan in place in respect of the technology that An Garda Síochána needs. Clearly, that kind of investment was not made during the Celtic tiger years. This problem has not arisen overnight, but it is beyond time for us to make that investment and I intend to begin to make it once we have the report on Haddington Road from the Garda Inspectorate. The inspectorate report lays out a timeframe. There are initiatives that can be taken in the next year, the next two years and beyond, so the timeframe is there and I would like to adhere to it as much as possible. Certainly, there are initiatives that can be taken immediately. The decision on technology is an important part of that, but there are many others relating to reforms of policing which can be implemented immediately.