In accordance with section 26 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the direction and control of An Garda Síochána. In exercising this function the Garda Commissioner ensures 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 An Garda Síochána. In addition when developing policy or legislative proposals on policing matters my Department would always have regard to international models.
As the Deputy will be aware the Garda Síochána Act 2005 contains provisions to assist the Garda Síochána to operate to international best practice. For example, the Act requires the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to benchmark their recommendations by reference to the best standards of comparable police services, therefore, every inspection conducted by the Garda Inspectorate, and any recommendation arising therefrom, has involved examining and taking account of policing best practice internationally.
The Deputy may also wish to note one of the functions of the Garda Professional Standards Unit, is to promote the highest standards of practice, as measured by reference to the best standards of comparable police services. The Unit undertakes reviews, as directed by the Garda Commissioner, into operational, administrative and management matters relating to the Garda Síochána at all levels. Arising from these reviews, measures to improve performance and promote the highest standards of practice throughout the Garda Síochána are proposed. The Garda Commissioner draws on the Unit's proposals to enhance policing practices and policies
The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) carries out long term strategic and short term tactical investigations into the activities of Organised Crime Gangs (OCGs) based both here and on the European Continent and has strategic partners in the United Kingdom, Spain, Holland and Belgium; countries where OCGs affecting the Irish jurisdiction tend to be the most proactive. Information and intelligence regarding drug trafficking is disseminated and procured through international agencies such as Europol and Interpol.
The GNDOCB has forged an important relationship with the Maritime Analysis Operations Centre for Narcotics (MAOC-N) which seeks to intercept sailing vessels from South America carrying primarily high quality cocaine destined for the European market. The GNDOCB also liaises closely with the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the United Kingdom.
As the Deputy will be aware the Commission on the Future of Policing published its report on 18 September. With regard to combatting organised crime, the Commission recommended that An Garda Síochána’s security and intelligence capability must be strengthened, with the ability to recruit specialist expertise.
On 18 December 2018, the Government endorsed the Commission’s report and accepted all 157 key recommendations, including the aforementioned. I also published a high level plan, ‘A Policing Service for the Future’, which sets out the approach to implementation over the next four years of the Commission’s recommendations, which will be overseen by a dedicated programme office in the Department of the Taoiseach, as recommended in the Commission’s Report. As set out in the implementation plan, work will commence on the identification of the requirements to strengthen An Garda Síochána’s security and intelligence capability in 2019.
As I said on publication of the implementation plan, the Government has endorsed the Commission’s clear vision for a modern, highly professional police service. Implementation of this programme for reform will not only address current challenges in policing, but also enable An Garda Síochána to meet future challenges and allow An Garda Síochána to evolve in a coherent and strategic manner in accordance with international best practice.