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Question

117. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which policing methods here, including community policing, replicate best practice in other European countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42717/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will be appreciate that in accordance with section 26 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility to manage and control generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána and I as Minister have no direct function in those matters. In exercising this function, I understand that the Garda Commissioner continues to ensure that relevant policing developments in other jurisdictions are reviewed on an on-going basis so that international best practice can be identified and, where appropriate, applied throughout the Garda Síochána. In addition, I wish to assure the Deputy that when developing policy or legislative proposals on policing matters my Department would always have regard to international models.
I am advised by An Garda Síochána that it is the case that all Gardaí have a role to play in addressing community policing issues as and when the need arises. In that sense, community policing involves far more than a single unit within An Garda Síochána. Community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána. It provides a means of recognising that every community has its own concerns and expectations. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the Garda National Model of Community Policing plays a key part in responding to crime by taking into account and responding to local conditions and needs. Clear objectives are set, such as high visibility in the community, ease of contact by members of the public, and enhanced support for crime prevention strategies. The term community policing is used in many different ways. Community policing is not, of course, confined to dedicated Community Gardaí, all Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. In addition, the National Community Policing Office, attached to the Garda Community Relations Bureau, captures best practice in community policing initiatives and disseminates these practices through its communication network. I am advised that An Garda Siochána continue to evaluate and develop Community Policing to take account of the changes taking place within our communities and the need for a more responsive police service.
As the Deputy will be aware the Garda Síochána Act 2005 contains provisions, the purpose of which are to assist the Garda Síochána to operate to the best standards in line with the police services of other comparable jurisdictions. The Act provides for the establishment of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and section 117(1) of the Act requires the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to benchmark their recommendations by reference to the best standards of comparable police services. Arising from this requirement, every inspection conducted by the Garda Inspectorate, and any recommendation arising, has involved examining and taking account of policing practices in other jurisdictions.
The Deputy may also wish to note one of the functions of the Garda Professional Standards Unit, which was established under section 24 of the 2005 Act, is to promote the highest standards of practice, as measured by reference to the best standards of comparable police services, in operational, administrative and management matters relating to An Garda Síochána. Arising from these reviews, the Unit proposes measures to improve performance and promote the highest standards of practice throughout the Garda Síochána with reference to those of comparable police services. The Garda Commissioner, on an ongoing basis, draws on the Unit's proposals to enhance policing practices and policies.
As the Deputy will be aware the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland published its report on 18 September. The report contains a wide range of recommendations which comprehensively address all the themes set out in the Commission's terms of reference including in relation to Community Policing.
This is a major report on one of the key functions of the State and it is now receiving appropriate consideration. My Department is undertaking a detailed consultation process with the new Commissioner and other agencies as well as with other Government departments which are potentially impacted by the report's recommendations. As part of this process, I have asked the Garda Commissioner to respond to the recommendations in the report insofar as they directly concern An Garda Síochána. These recommendations include a particular emphasis on local policing as the core of the future model of policing.
I will return to Government to discuss my substantive response as well as a High Level Implementation Plan and proposed project structure before the end of the year.