The statutory policing principles are that policing services are to be provided independently and impartially, in a manner that respects human rights, and in a manner that supports the proper and effective administration of justice. The principle is that effective and efficient policing is dependent on securing the confidence, support and cooperation of local communities and engaging with them.
The objectives of the Garda Síochána are formally stated to be
- preserving peace and order,
- protecting life and property,
- vindicating the human rights of individuals,
- protecting the security of the State,
- preventing crime,
- bringing criminals to justice, including by directing and investigating crime,
- regulating traffic and road safety.
The Gardai also have such other functions as are conferred by law including in relation to immigration and other matters.
The security services functions of An Garda Síochána are concerned with protecting the security of the State including but not limited to:
- preventing terrorist-type offences;
- protecting the State from sabotage,
- unlawful acts intended to undermine democracy in the institutions of the State;
- clandestine or deceptive acts of foreign interests;
- identifying foreign capabilities, intentions or activities within or relating to the State that impact on international well-being and economic operation of the State;
- cooperating with authorities in other States and international organisations aimed at preserving international peace, public order and security.
Protecting security does not involve lawful advocacy, protest or dissent activities. Questions as to whether a particular matter relates to policing or security services may be referred to the Minister for resolution.
Members of The Garda Síochána may institute and prosecute cases in the District Court. The DPP may give directions regarding prosecutions by members of an Garda Síochána. They may be general or specific directions, including directions regarding specified types of offences in specified circumstances, and conduct the proceedings through a specified stage.
The DPP may assume the conduct of proceedings initiated by a member of an Garda Síochána or authorise the member to institute the proceedings without the consent of the DPP. If legislation provides, DPP consent is required.
Ethics & Intergrity
The members of Garda Síochána must take care that they discharge their duties with fairness, integrity, regard for human rights, diligence and impartiality, upholding the Constitution and the laws and according to equal respect. They shall not, while in the Gardai, be a member of a political party or any secret society whatsoever.
The Department of Justice publishes regulations establishing a code of ethics, including standards of conduct and practice for members of the Garda Síochána. The code may be prepared in draft by the Commissioner subject to approval by the Minister.
Wrongs in the Course of Duty
When a member of a Garda Síochána commits a civil wrong in the course of his duty, the state is liable for damages as if he were an employee. The member of the Garda Síochána concerned need not be named, although he may be joined as a party to the proceedings. In this context, civil wrong includes a breach of civil wrongs or constitutional rights.
The Department may pay the legal costs of the member of Garda Síochána charged with an offence if the acts alleged to constitute the offence was done directly in the performance of the member’s functions and the Department is of the opinion that the financial circumstances would result in undue hardship.
Strategy Statement & Report
Every three years the Garda Commissioner is to submit for approval a strategy statement for the Garda Síochána and for policing for a three-year period. This must include a mission statement, medium-term objectives, strategies to achieve objectives, identification of issues of concern to the State and plans for managing those issues.
In preparing the strategy, the Garda Síochána is to have regard to government policy, priorities, available resources, and the need to ensure the most beneficial and effective use of resources. The Garda Commissioner is to prepare an annual policing plan setting out arrangements for the policing of the state for the following year, including any proposals to establish or dissolve a national unit of the Garda Síochána, alter divisional boundaries and open or close Garda Síochána stations. The plan is to be determined in accordance with the above priority statements, strategy statements, governmental directives, available resources and government policies.
At the end of every three-year period the Garda Commissioner is to submit a report containing a review of the effectiveness management and deployment of resources during the previous three-year period. The report may contain recommendations necessary for improving the management and deployment of resources. The report is to be laid before the Oireachtas.
The Garda Commissioner must make arrangements to obtain the views of the public on matters concerning policing and the state of crime. The Minister must approve the arrangements.
Offences re An Garda Siochana
It is an offence to induce or do anything calculated to induce a member of a Garda Síochána to withhold services or commit a breach of discipline. The offence is subject on summary conviction for a fine up to €3000 and 12 months imprisonment or a fine not exceeding €50,000 or imprisonment up to five years or both on conviction on indictment.
It is an offence to impersonate a member of an Garda Síochána or make any statement or do an act calculated whilst he did suggest that he is a member. The penalties are the same as above.
It is an offence to be in possession of any article of Garda uniform or equipment without having good cause. It is an offence to put on or wear any article of Garda uniform without reasonable excuse or any imitation of such article or uniform or for the purpose of doing or procuring to be done any act which he would not be entitled by law to do, procure to be done or assume the name, designation and description of any rank or of any member of a Garda Síochána.
It is an offence without lawful authority to have in one’s possession or use in connection with any trade or business or any purpose any article, equipment, or vehicle having a distinct badge or a crest resembling that of the Garda Síochána so as to be likely to deceive. The wearing of a uniform or dress in a performance in a theatre film or TV or with the prior approval of Garda Síochána is permitted.
Disclosure of Information
Any person who is a member of in Garda Síochána or of its civilian staff or engaged in contract by an Garda Síochána shall not disclose any information obtained in the course of carrying out his duties if he knows the disclosure of the information is likely to have a harmful effect.
Information likely to have a harmful effect would include
- that facilitating the commission of an offence,
- prejudicing the safekeeping of a person in custody,
- preventing the detection or investigation of offence,
- impeding the apprehension or prosecution of an offender,
- prejudicing the Garda Síochána system of communication
- resulting in the identification of a witness to criminal proceedings whose identity is not a matter of public knowledge.
- resulting in the publication of information relating to a person who is a witness of such a nature that would be likely to discourage the person from giving evidence,
- resulting in the publication of personal information which constitutes an unwarranted and serious infringement of a personal right to privacy,
- reveals information provided in confidence by another state international organisation or police force,
- adversely affects international relations, including those with Northern Ireland.
A person is presumed, for the purpose of the offence, to know that the disclosure of information is likely to have a harmful effect if a reasonable person would, in the circumstances, be aware that the disclosure could have this effect.
The provision does not prevent disclosure of information to the Department, DPP, Chief State Solicitor, CAB, Comptroller and Auditor General, Garda Ombudsman, the Garda Inspectorate, the Revenue Commissioners, the Courts, Tribunals as otherwise authorised by the law.
The disclosure of information above is subject to the above penalties.