I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 45 together.
In February 2008 the Garda Commissioner established a group to review training and development for garda and civilian staff in the Garda Síochána.
The review group, chaired by Mr Pat McLoughlin, formerly of the Health Service Executive, carried out an extensive analysis of the training needs of the organisation and consulted widely with staff across all ranks and grades. Consultations were also held with relevant bodies such as the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council and police forces internationally.
The report found significant strengths in the wide diversity of training provided in the Garda Síochána, both to student Gardaí and to serving members and civilian staff. However, it also identified areas where the organisation, management and delivery of training could be further enhanced, with considerable benefits for the Garda Síochána and the public it serves. I am setting out the key recommendations in a note which I am circulating with this reply.
The Commissioner will over the coming months progressively implement these very significant and wide-ranging improvements in Garda training, and he will have my full backing and support in that process.
Key recommendations of the Training and Development Review Group Report
There should be a new training and development model put in place, with an Assistant Commissioner given sole responsibility for overseeing and implementing this;
The training sections in the Garda College should be restructured;
There should be a better training support structure across all garda operational divisions, with divisional training managers;
There should be a standardised process within Garda Divisions that objectively prioritises training opportunities based on developing the right knowledge and skills;
The student/probationer training programme should be radically restructured into 3 phases instead of the current 5. Phase I would be for 32 weeks at the Garda College, at the end of which successful students would be attested (i.e. become members of the Garda Síochána with full police powers). Currently students are attested after 58 weeks. Phase II would be for 65 weeks based in Garda stations, and Phase III would consist of 7 weeks of exam preparation, exams and assessments;
Student training at the Garda College should be more scenario-based and less classroom-based, so as to prepare students better for the policing challenges they will face;
There should be better support for students who, after attestation, are assigned to Garda stations, with new field-training tutors playing a key role;
Driver training should be provided within the student/probationer training programme;
A lifelong learning philosophy should be instilled in the Garda Síochána, with a suite of mandatory and elective courses made available;
A learning management system should be introduced in the Garda Síochána, to manage the administration and oversight of training;
Specialist training facilities, such as firearms ranges, driver training areas and a mock urban structure, should be developed on the grounds of Dromard House in Tipperary, already purchased for this purpose, as soon as possible;
Training for civilian staff in the Garda Síochána should be integrated into the general training structure for members.
The full report is available on the Garda websitewww.garda.ie.