From Irish Independent 26 Jun 2019 Irish Independent by Robin Schiller
A REPORT into Garda public order policing has said that more female gardaí are needed for the specialist units in the organisation.
Concerns have also been raised about an ad hoc approach to organisational learning of public order policing, while the review calls for a more transparent selection process for public order units.
The recommendations were made in a report by the Garda Inspectorate, on behalf of the Policing Authority, which was published yesterday.
It followed the Authority’s oversight and assessment of the Garda response to two high-profile incidents involving public order policing – the Jobstown protest at An Cosan in 2014, and the North Frederick Street protests in 2018 – and how key findings have not yet been implemented.
The inspection identified some areas of good practice, such as public order training and the professionalism of operational public order commanders.
A total of 19 recommendations were made, including that the remit of the Garda Public Order Steering Group be expanded to include the internal monitoring of use of force.
Data on use of force should also be published on the Garda website, it said, and external oversight of use of force should be added into performance monitoring by oversight bodies. The Garda Inspectorate also recommended the urgent development of a Strategic Threat Risk Assessment (STRA) to examine the Garda’s organisational readiness, contingency planning and emerging protester tactics.
STRA is currently used by other police agencies, including the City of London Police, who use it to determine an appropriate response for protests relating to Brexit, far-right members and environmental groups.
The report also found that, of the more than 1,100 public order-trained gardaí nationally, only between 5pc and 8pc were female, with exact figures not available.
The oversight body has recommended that a specific strategy is introduced to “develop greater female representation in public order policing”.
The quality of the public order selection process was also highlighted, with an overall lack of understanding on how public order gardaí are selected.
The inspectorate recommended that a “standardised and transparent” selection process is developed for the National Public Order Unit.
Commenting on the publication of the report, Policing Authority chair Josephine Feehily thanked the Garda Inspectorate for their work.
“Effective public order policing… is essential in a healthy democracy and, in this context, every year An Garda Síochána manages many large public gatherings effectively and without incident.”