Future of policing report

Justice Minister Helen McEntee TD: ‘The next chapter in Irish policing, security, and community safety’

Policing, Security and Community Safety Act 2024 provides for the most significant policing reform in 20 years, writes Justice Minister Helen McEntee TD.

When we think of the Irish criminal justice system, An Garda Síochána is probably what first comes to mind for most of us. We all recognise the Garda logo, our local Garda station, or gardaí that we see at various community and sporting events in our towns and villages, or on foot patrol in our urban areas. We know that An Garda Síochána is available to us if we need its assistance.

Less visible is the work required behind the scenes to ensure that An Garda Síochána, like any other large public service organisation, is fully supported, equipped and accountable to deliver policing services to the public and the communities it serves.

At the beginning of 2024, the Policing, Security and Community Safety Act 2024 was passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas. This landmark Act provides an important new framework for policing, security, and community safety in the State and introduces a new internal governance, external oversight, and accountability policing framework. Many of these changes are based on recommendations made by the Commission on the Future of Policing (CoFPI) who published their report in 2018.

Internal governance of An Garda Síochána is being strengthened by the introduction of a new non-Executive Garda Board.

Independent external oversight will be provided by the new Policing and Community Safety Authority, which will merge the broad-ranging oversight functions of the existing Policing Authority and the inspection functions of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate. GSOC is being restructured as Fiosrú – the Office of the Police Ombudsman with an expanded remit to investigate complaints against Garda members.

We are also establishing two new Offices – the National Office for Community Safety and the Office of the Independent Examiner of Security Legislation.

National Office for Community Safety

The National Office for Community Safety will promote inter-agency collaboration and community engagement to improve community safety nationwide. It will also work closely with local community safety partnerships (which we have piloted in Dublin’s north east inner city, Waterford, and Longford), setting and overseeing targets to evaluate their effectiveness.

Ensuring that people are safe and feel safe in their own community so that communities can thrive, and flourish is a priority for me. Community safety goes beyond traditional, high visibility policing. It requires a whole-of-government approach, and the input of those within communities who know best the dynamics, strengths and challenges of their localities, working together to build safer and stronger communities.

I recently opened the call for applications to the Community Safety Fund for 2024. This Fund reinvests the value of proceeds of crime seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau directly back into communities via projects that support and improve community safety. This year, total funding of €3.75 million is available in grants ranging from €20,000 to €150,000 for groups on issues relevant to community safety and youth justice. I encourage groups to consider making an application before the fund closes on 26 July 2024.

Office of the Independent Examiner of Security Legislation

The Independent Examiner of Security Legislation is an entirely new role and represents a significant development in enhancing our national security infrastructure – providing for an independent review of security legislation and security arrangements.

“The most significant benefit for ordinary people will be the changes we make to community safety structures.” Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD

Preparations for the establishment and restructuring of these bodies is well underway in the Department of Justice. Working closely with our key Programme Partners – An Garda Síochána, GSOC, the Policing Authority, and the Garda Síochána Inspectorate – our implementation team has been planning for the commencement of this legislation in parallel with its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Act requires 24 office holders, senior executives, and board/authority members to be appointed for commencement. The necessary recruitment and appointment processes are coming to a close and I expect to be announcing successful candidates in the coming weeks. I want to thank our colleagues in the Public Appointments Service for their support during this intensive process.

There will then be a short period for on-boarding new personnel and to operationalise the new and reconstituted bodies in preparation for commencement of the Act. This additional time will also be utilised to finalise some of the more complex pieces of secondary legislation required for commencement, including the necessary consultations.

Our Programme Partners are working hard to ensure that the necessary processes and procedures are in place to support the new and restructured organisations and appointed personnel from the outset.


I know that the benefits of changes to the structure and working procedures of large organisation such as An Garda Síochána can seem intangible to those from the outside. So, I understand when people ask: What will this new legislation do for me?

Outside of improving the performance and accountability of our police service, I think the most significant benefit for ordinary people will be the changes we make to community safety structures. I truly believe these changes, overseen by a National Office, will make a tangible difference to those working on the ground and will help communities tackle head-on some of the challenges that have arisen in recent times, including anti-social behaviour.

This new legislation provides for the most wide-ranging and coherent reform of policing in the last 20 years. The changes that are happening will really make a positive and material difference to our policing services now and into the future.

It is the result of an enormous amount of research and collaborative work with the aim of developing a new approach to ensuring modern and dynamic policing in Ireland.

I very much look forward to this next chapter in Irish policing, security, and community safety.

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