The new police ombudsman will need at least double the current number of staff at the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), an Oireachtas committee will be told.
Last week, the legislation to establish Fiosrú, the Office of the Police Ombudsman, completed its passage through the Oireachtas.
GSOC chief Rory MacCabe SC will tell the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) tomorrow that resourcing “remains below what we need now and significantly below what the organisation is likely to need”.
“Fiosrú will have new structures, new management and a lot more work,” Mr McCabe said.
“In broad terms, and over a phased period, a minimum of a doubling of our current staff complement, including a considerable increase in our complement of investigative staff, will be essential.”
He notes “increases in budget and staffing in recent years”, which has seen funding rise from €13.7m in 2022 to €19.6m this year, with staff levels rising to 163, plus some vacancies which are currently being filled.
However, this has only “assisted us in reducing backlogs and in preparing for major institutional transition”.
“It is our clear aim as a commission to do everything we can to ensure that the new Office of the Police Ombudsman can do the job that the Oireachtas mandates,” Mr MacCabe’s opening statement reads.
Currently, GSOC has investigative staff “on-call seven days a week, 24 hours a day, operating across the country”.
In 2022, they handled “1,826 complaints, containing 3,207 separate allegations”, the statement notes.
Last week, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee welcomed “the passing of the landmark Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill 2023”.
One of its functions is to create “a reformed police complaints body” along with “reformed processes and procedures…relating to the handling of complaints and the conduct of investigations into allegations of wrongdoing on the part of members of garda personnel,” the minister said.