GARDA Commissioner, Noel Conroy (right), has stated that community policing is the bedrock upon which policing in Ireland is based. In a major address on the subject at the recent Muintir Mhaigh Eo dinner dance in Galway, the newly-selected Mayo Person of the Year said policing is not the sole responsibility of An Garda Síochána, it is a community responsibility.
The Commissioner said the range and complexity of the tasks of modern-day policing are clearly far removed from the duties of a garda, 85 years ago, when An Garda Síochána was formed.
“Nevertheless, two fundamentals of policing remain constant: a police service exists to serve the community in which it operates, and it cannot serve the community effectively unless it has the help, support and confidence of the community.
“In common with many other organisations seeking to deliver a quality public service, today we find ourselves operating in a fast-moving, rapidly-changing, more multicultural society with a tendency to shift from communal loyalties to individualism, one that is much more global in attitude and outlook, willing to question authority and increasingly seeking fairness, performance and accountability from its public services.
“As an organisation, we are becoming increasingly conscious of the importance of striving to meet customers’ changing needs, being more flexible in implementing change, identifying relevant stakeholders to achieve strategic goals and objectives in a coherent manner,” he said.
Commissioner Conroy, who was guest of honour at the gathering in the Galway Bay Hotel, said that consensual, non-confrontational policing has served An Garda Síochána and the public well since the foundation of the State.
“This approach has been fine-tuned over the years and has now developed to the point where schemes such as Community Alert, Neighbourhood Watch, Business Watch and Campus Watch have brought together the goodwill of the community and the resources of the Gardaí.
“Community policing is the bedrock upon which policing in Ireland is based. In simple terms, it is the police working in partnership with the community, and the community participating in its own policing, with both working together to solve problems affecting public safety in the long term, rather than the police acting alone.
“We are strongly influenced by the requirements of the community and the need to deploy resources to meet those requirements.
“Working together in a partnership approach, we can and will continue to do our best in our quest for a reduction in crime and a more tranquil society.”
Mr Conroy said there was a time when An Garda Síochána was seen as all things to all people. “That day is long gone. Policing is not the sole responsibility of An Garda Síochána alone. It is a community responsibility.
“If it is true that policing cannot be effective in a free society unless it is socially acceptable, then the question necessarily arises as to how best to ensure that the public understands what is required of their police service, so that it can act effectively.
“Just as there is a duty on society to support the police, there is also a duty on the police to ensure they act in a way which commands the confidence and respect of the community that they serve.
“Irish people, and particularly the people of Mayo, have a long tradition of supporting An Garda Síochána and I am fully confident of that continued support into the future. Working together we can help to build a society in which we can all take pride,” he told the 400 guests.