A majority of the public is always interested and seeking better policing. At its most fundamental this reflects a desire for safety and some structure and adherence to law and order in society. Any moves to make policing more effective and responsive generally find favour with most people.
The proposed reform of structures within An Garda Siochána was last week hailed by its proponents as being the most comprehensive in the force's history. And remember that these changes are coming just two years from the 100th anniversary of the foundation of this policing force, which was a major plank in the then nascent free state.
Throughout its history the Gardaí have, by and large, enjoyed a good relationship with the people they serve. There have been problems, sure, but its members retain the respect and goodwill of most members of the public. What is certain is that changes to the structure and operation of the Gardaí is something that will impact everyone.
How policing is delivered and how effective it is are therefore of fundamental concern. Maximising the force's “operational impact” at ground level is something that few could argue with, but it remains to be seen whether this will be the case.
The proposed amalgamation of Longford and Roscommon with Mayo under one Chief Superintendent may indeed move more power towards Chief Superintendents and lead to greater frontline roles as the advocates of the plan claim. Time will tell.
However, changes that lead to any diminution in policing at local level would be a totally different story.
A plan like this would now benefit from a consultative process with the public and all interested parties to further tease out the detail, and to ensure that its application will be effective and just.
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