279. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which garda training here remains on par with best international practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6028/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who has statutory responsibility for arranging for the training of personnel and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter.
I am advised by the Commissioner that An Garda Síochána provides foundation training for new recruits and an extensive range of training and development courses for members and civilian staff.
In June 2009, An Garda Síochána's Training and Development Review Group presented its comprehensive findings on training in An Garda Síochána to the Commissioner. The Review Group was assembled to review all training in An Garda Síochána and included leading members of public and private sector organisations. It was tasked with recommending ways to improve and reinvigorate Garda training to align to best practice and meet the new challenges of a changing society.
The Review Group conducted best practice site visits at nine international police training facilities. During these site visits particular attention was given to the training and development of new entrants. The various models of foundation police training observed internationally were considered in the analysis of the previous training programme, the B.A in Police Studies. The analysis identified areas for development of that programme and also established methods of enhancing the preparation of Student/Probationer Gardaí for core operational Garda duties. It was recommended that the development of a new training programme for student/probationers be structured over three phases of training. This modularised programme aims to address core policing skills through blended learning, increased use of scenario-based practical training and drawing on problem based learning (PBL) methodologies. The current foundation training programme was developed and was first delivered to new entrants in September 2014. This new training programme is known as the B.A in Applied Policing programme. It is accredited by the University of Limerick, which oversees the delivery and quality assurance of the training programme in line with the requirements of Quality and Qualifications Ireland. I am informed that on four occasions each year a Board of Examiners meeting is convened by the University of Limerick to review and ratify results for the B.A in Applied Policing Programme. At these Board of Examiners meeting, the University of Limerick tasks external examiners, who have international police expertise, to review and make recommendations regarding best practice in relation to the B.A in Applied Policing programme.
In respect of leadership and management, the Leadership Management & Professional Development (LMPD) Training Section attached to the Garda College is responsible for developing, delivering and facilitating the leadership and development training for newly promoted personnel. All programmes delivered underpin the philosophies of the Training Review Report 2009 to achieve a commitment to lifelong learning within the organisation. To ensure up to date development, substantial elements of the programmes which specifically deal with supervision, leadership and management are put out to tender to ensure the organisation gets the best available and up to date external training in this field. I am advised that all Garda personnel who deliver the LMPD programme have level 9 NFQ qualifications in the area of leadership, organisation behaviour, executive coaching, and level 8 NFQ in leadership and governance. They are also professionally qualified at international level in the area of emotional intelligence and psychometrics, and hold practitioner’s qualifications in “Leadership GRID”, an international leadership development programme. In line with Garda Inspectorate reports, LMPD has incorporated coaching and mentoring in all programmes and has external executive coaches as part of senior management development and 360 feedbacks.
I am further advised that each year members of An Garda Síochána attend international training programmes under the auspices of CEPOL, the European Agency for Law Enforcement Training. These programmes take place in EU Member States and include a broad range of policing related programmes.
To support continuous professional development each Garda Division has a Continuous Professional Development School, which provides training on a variety of topics and issues ranging from procedural to legislative changes and the implementation of new initiatives.
The Commissioner's Modernisation and Renewal Programme 2016-2021 which is under way recognises that it is critical that all personnel are kept up to date on relevant policies and changes in the law and that continuous professional development must be a constant within An Garda Síochána. I have been informed by the Commissioner that, as part of this programme, investment in learning and development in An Garda Síochána will be enhanced so that all personnel will receive the training, mentoring and leadership development that they require to continue to develop their skills so that they can perform more effectively in their roles and progress their careers.
There is, of course, always benefit in taking stock to see whether things can be done better or in a different way. The Commission on the Future of Policing is examining all aspects of policing in the State including training. I understand that Commission members have met with those in the University of Limerick and have also visited the Garda College as part of their work. The Commission is due to report in September 2018 and I look forward to its recommendations.