GSOC welcomes publication of the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill
Policing oversight agency gives broad welcome to draft legislation proposing significant expansion and restructuring of its investigatory powers; emphasises importance of guaranteeing institutional independence and adequate resourcing; commits to prompt publication of detailed observations on Bill.
The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has today welcomed the publication by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD of the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill.
GSOC hailed the Bill as “a significant step forward in addressing a clearly-defined, and long-signalled, gap in Ireland’s policing accountability infrastructure”.
In particular, GSOC has welcomed provisions in the Bill that strengthen its independence as a civilian police oversight body. The Bill names the reformed organisation as the ‘Office of the Police Ombudsman’. This highlights the agency’s independence from An Garda Síochána, and will assist with public understanding of its role and functions.
Of particular importance to GSOC is ensuring that the legislation, once enacted, guarantees institutional independence, as well as ensuring that the reformed body is adequately resourced and supported to fulfil its expanded remit.
GSOC will continue to engage with the Department and other stakeholders on these matters during the Bill’s passage through the Oireachtas, and will publish a set of detailed observations on the Bill in the coming weeks.
Notes to editor
The Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill was published by the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee today, 22 November 2022 following cabinet approval.
It can be downloaded HERE.
It will now begin its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The broad-ranging Bill seeks to address some of the key recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing. Amongst these recommendations was the expansion of the powers, independence and remit of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
Preparation for transition to a reformed organisation
In anticipation of the passage of this legislation, GSOC has dedicated resources to prepare for a smooth transition to the reformed organisation. Ongoing work includes an in-depth analysis of the legislation and its implications, as well as actively engaging with the Department of Justice and An Garda Síochána on the proposed legislation and its implementation. GSOC also procured external expertise (via the Civil Service framework) to conduct an organisational review, along with designing and assisting with planning the future structure of the organisation. This review is currently underway.
Previous GSOC commentary on the draft legislation
An initial ‘Scheme’ of this bill was published in April 2021. GSOC analysis of this scheme is available HERE. This analysis welcomed the scheme, but GSOC recommendations included the need for the Bill to:
- ensure meaningful institutional independence and adequate resourcing to guarantee that the proposed expansion to GSOC’s remit can be fulfilled in practice.
- to impose firm obligations on all actors involved in an investigation of Garda wrongdoing to cooperate promptly, in order to ensure investigations are concluded in a fair, timely and effective manner.
Now that the Bill has been published in full, GSOC will issue detailed observations on it in the coming weeks.