Home > Amendments to Garda Bill 2004 enhance community policing.

Connolly, Johnny (2005) Amendments to Garda Bill 2004 enhance community policing. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 15, Autumn 2005, p. 7.

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In March 2005, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights conducted a review of community policing in Ireland in light of proposals contained in Chapter 4 of the Garda Síochána Bill 2004 to establish new local policing structures.1 Many of the recommendations of the Joint Committee have been incorporated into the Bill, which is now in its final stages in the Oireachtas.2

An important amendment to the Bill has been the inclusion of the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, who has responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, in the preparation of guidelines concerning the establishment and maintenance of joint policing committees (JPCs) by local authorities and the Garda Commissioner. The steering group which oversaw the mid-term review of the National Drugs Strategy highlighted concerns raised during its consultation process about the pace at which community policing fora were developing in drugs task force areas. In light of these concerns, and developments with regard to the Garda Bill, a new action has been incorporated into the Strategy: ‘Taking into account the provisions of the Garda Síochána Bill 2004, Community Policing Fora should be extended to all Local Drugs Task Force areas and to other areas experiencing problems of drug misuse.’3

Another important issue raised during the Joint Oireachtas Committee related to the perceived importance of including representatives of the community and voluntary sector on the JPCs. The Bill now provides for the inclusion on the JPCs of ‘persons representing local community interests’4

Another important tier in the proposed new local policing structures is the establishment of local policing fora. However, concerns were expressed during the Joint Committee review in relation to a provision in the Bill which necessitated the Garda Commissioner’s consent for the establishment of such fora. The Bill has now been amended to provide for the establishment of such fora by JPCs in consultation with the local Garda superintendent ‘as the committee considers necessary’.5   

The Bill further states that in the event of a dispute arising over the establishment of local policing fora the JPC must submit the dispute to the Minister for Justice, who, following consultation with the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, shall decide on the matter.6

Joe Costello TD, rapporteur to the Joint Oireachtas Committee, welcomed the amendments to the Bill, in particular the opening up of joint policing committees to community membership. Speaking to Drugnet Ireland, deputy Costello said: ‘The inclusion of the community as an integral part of the partnership will be crucial to the success of the new direction in policing envisaged in the legislation.’

1. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 14, Summer 2005.

2. The report and recommendations of the Joint Committee areon the Oireachtas website at www.oireachtas.ie

3. Steering Group for the Mid-term Review of the National Drugs Strategy (2003) Mid-term review of the national drugs strategy 2001–2008. Dublin: Stationery Office, p 21.

4. Garda Síochána Bill 2004, s35(2)(b)(v)

5. Garda Síochána Bill 2004, s36(2)(d)

6. Garda Síochána Bill 2004, s36(3)

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 15, Autumn 2005
July 2005
Page Range
p. 7
Health Research Board
Issue 15, Autumn 2005
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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