Home > NESC report commends city policing initiative.

Connolly, Johnny (2013) NESC report commends city policing initiative. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 44, Winter 2012, p. 21.

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A report published by the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) as part of its quality and standards in human services in Ireland series reviews the various police oversight and consultative bodies established by the Garda Síochána Act 2005.1 The new regulatory institutions established by the Act include the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, Joint Policing Committees and Local Policing Fora. 

Many of these oversight bodies emerged as a response to ‘revelations about abuse of powers by individual officers’, with the net result being a much greater oversight of police activity (p.2). However, the report queries their overall impact, on both the level and quality of policing and ‘the potentially egregious abuses of power’ (p.2). The report suggests that ‘these bodies have yet to institutionalise procedures that would embed and sustain reform over time’ (p.ix). It also poses the more fundamental question as to whether the kind of oversight offered by these bodies is sufficiently ‘diagnostic’ to uncover the causes of the various complaints and problems they were established to address, so as to prevent their recurrence.
The report suggests that a more promising route towards the improvement of policing standards may be through a structured liaison process between gardaí and local communities, citing an example of how this has been accomplished as part of a local community policing initiative established in Dublin’s north inner city. The North Inner City Community Policing Forum (CPF) was established in 1999 to facilitate a co-ordinated strategy in response to drug dealing and drug-related anti-social behaviour in the north inner city.2 The CPF brings together the local community and representatives of the Garda Síochána and Dublin City Council. The NESC report concludes that the CPF has been a ‘relatively successful model of engagement with citizens at a local level’ and that it has fostered a ‘greater culture of transparency’ between the community and the gardaí involved (p.33). The community, according to the report ‘now have a more responsive police service and the gardaí have been able to tap into confidential information derived from the community’ (p.34).
Although highlighting the positive achievements of the CPF, the NESC report concludes that, when approaching all forms of policing service delivery in Ireland, there is a need for a more rigorous process of learning and analysis so as to encourage continuous improvement. It advocates a process referred to as ‘triple-loop learning’, described as a ‘need for learning to take place at a number of levels that reinforce each other: the level at which the service is delivered; at corporate level; and at the level of regulator or at national level’ (p.5). According to the NESC report, because of the policing reforms introduced by the Garda Síochána Act 2005, ‘Ireland has all the “parts” necessary for a well-functioning system of quality policing… . But these parts have yet to be co-opted into a common regime of learning that is conducive to greater quality in policing’ (pp.ix–x).
1.     National Economic and Social Council (2012) Quality and standards in human services in Ireland: policing and the search for continuous improvement. Dublin: National Economic and Social Council. www.drugsandalcohol.ie/18406
2.     For a detailed account of the CPF see Connolly J (2002) Community policing and drugs in Dublin: the North Inner City Community Policing Forum. Dublin: North Inner City Drugs Task Force.
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Crime prevention
Issue Title
Issue 44, Winter 2012
January 2013
Page Range
p. 21
Health Research Board
Issue 44, Winter 2012
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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