"Root and branch" policing review opens in Dublin

The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland is holding its first meeting today.

The 12-member body was set up to conduct a “root and branch” review of Garda operations, following a series of scandals that have engulfed the force.

Chaired by Kathleen O'Toole - the chief of the Seattle Police Department – the commission is due to issue a report by September of next year.

Ms O'Toole was on the Garda Inspectorate for six years from 2006 and was also a member of the Patten Commission on policing in Northern Ireland.

She was the first female commissioner of the Boston Police from 2004-2006.

She will remain as Seattle Police Chief while also running the commission.

Scandals

Garda officials announced in March that major discrepancies had been discovered in the official garda roadside breath testing figures – with almost one million tests recorded that never occurred.

They also revealed that thousands of court summonses were issued for offences that should have been dealt with by way of fixed penalty notice.

Separately, an internal garda audit revealed a host of financial irregularities at the Garda Training College in Templemore.

The financial mismanagement – which included the use of public money for entertainment, gifts and for clubs and societies – has been slammed by opposition politicians.

One instance, which saw €100,000 transferred from a college account to the Garda Boat Club – has been described as “embezzlement” by government TD Alan Farrell.

Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland

Ms O’Toole will be joined on the commission by former Irish Times editor Conor Brady, Noeleen Blackwell of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Peter Fahy - a former chief constable in the UK.

In addition to its final report, the commission may publish immediate and rolling recommendations it feels need to be implemented in the short term.

The terms of reference for the investigation encompass all functions carried out by An Garda Síochána – including culture and ethos, recruitment and training, management structures and oversight.

It will also examine whether there should be separation of policing and security in the State.

It will look at best practices in the policing models of other countries, and will consider whether more civilians should be appointed to senior management positions.

Read other news on the city site of Dublin.

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