As Green Party Justice spokesperson, I made a submission to the Commission on the Future of Policing earlier this year and attended its public consultation meeting in Blanchardstown in January. I’m really pleased to see that many of the key recommendations in my submission (which I attach below) are included in the Report that was launched today – in particular, our proposal for an Oversight Commission, the focus on community policing and the need for proper crime data.
In the Green Party submission, we suggested that an Oversight Commissioner, like that used in Northern Ireland to implement the Patton Report, should be adopted in Ireland. The Report recommends a new Policing and Community Safety Oversight Commission, which would combine the roles of the Policing Authority and the Garda Inspectorate.
We are also pleased to see that “community safety” is a theme throughout all elements of the Report, with recommendations that the issue should be debated at Cabinet level and a much broader definition of what constitutes ‘community police’.
As a county councillor and a member of the Fingal Joint Policing Committee, I welcome that the report identifies the flaws in the current Joint Policing Committee model and makes proposals on how the could operate more effectively. This is vital to ensure accountability as regards community policing.
The Report is a credit to the members of the Commission that they have produced such a detailed piece of work. Now, it is vital that political parties make it clear if they are willing to support the major changes to An Garda Siochana, the Department of Justice and other State bodies that the report recommends. I am calling for its content to be debated in the Oireachtas, so that parties can put on record their support for these changes. This will help ensure that the recommendations are actually legislated for.
I note that there was a minority opinion by some members of the Commission as regards the creation of a new Garda Board to run much of the administration of An Garda Siochana. I think it is important that clarification is provided here about whether the creation of this new board will mean external oversight powers, currently with the Policing Authority, would be diluted in any way. This should not happen.