New CCTV technology to allow gardaí pick out criminal's faces in crowds

Officers on patrol will also have access to mobile devices

Gardai, renewal plan, Garda Siochana, Noirin O'Sullivan, modernisation, CCTV, technology, criminals, reforms

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan (left) and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald are pictured at the launch of a Joint Agency Response to Crime Strategy at the Department of Justice in 2015 | Image: RollingNews.ie

Gardaí will soon have access to technology that will allow them to identify faces, and even biometrics, of key criminals on CCTV.

It is just one of the elements of a five-year modernisation programme of the gardaí, which includes more than €200m to be spent on ICT systems.

Gardaí on patrol will also have access to real-time information on mobile devices.

An Investigations Management System will enable electronic management and tracking of an investigation "from crime scene to Court", the plan says.

While the use of technologies such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and mobile safety cameras will also be expanded.

Mandatory alcohol testing and multi-agency checkpoints is also to be increased under the proposals.

The Garda Traffic Corps will be strengthened and its function re-developed into the Garda Roads Policing Unit, to tackle the use by criminals of the road network.

Greater regional powers

The force will also strengthen its capability in areas such as economic crime, cyber crime, and sexual and child abuse.

"A significant restructuring of the organisation that will see regional officers given greater responsibility to make decisions based on the policing needs in their areas", it says.

The plan also states: "Preventing crime will now be An Garda Síochána's number one priority".

Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan says they reviewed 43 reports into An Garda Síochána to inform this programme.

The modernisation and renewal programme will run until 2021.

The plan will see:

  • Increased visibility of gardaí equipped with the tools, training and resources they need
  • Victims placed at the heart of the garda service
  • Enhanced collaboration with national and international partners to tackle and disrupt terrorism and organised crime
  • The hiring of civilians with the right skills and placing them in the right roles to enhance the professionalism of the organisation and increase garda presence
  • The make-up of the service will be more representative of the diverse communities it serves

Specialist units will also be set-up to meet increasing challenges of cyber security.

Expansion of the work of the Computer Crime Investigation Unit to tackle cyber crime with regional units are set to be introduced.

"We will make more use of data and technology to prevent and detect crime. New systems will ensure we have the right people in the right places at the right times, and provide a better response to calls for service from the public", the force says.

And it says a number of changes under the programme have already happened.

For example, the bringing together of expertise in specialist areas such as drugs and organised crime, and in sexual crime and domestic violence - as well as working closer with criminal justice partners to identify and manage repeat offenders.

Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony says cooperating with Spanish police is vital in tackling individuals and drug crime.

The plan is based on feedback from employees and the community - and also takes into account the Government's reform agenda, and key findings from the reports into the organisation over the last number of years.

These reports are from stakeholders such as the Garda Inspectorate and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

The full plan is available here