By the Garda Representative Association (GRA)
14 Sept 2017 3pm
GRA: The collation of negative breathtest data was always an ill-considered misuse of scant resources
The GRA questions why Garda Management required data on the number of negative breath tests at a time when Garda resources were scarce or diminishing. This data was utilised as a crude measure of productivity – and fed into a culture of competition among senior ranks to improve their promotion chances.
No one can categorically say that it was our members falsifying data – we have numerous examples of supervisors and managers having input into this system. There was also little or no training and the recording process was obviously flawed. We have to ask who wanted this data recorded in the first place – and what does it purport to show? Goodhart’s Law states that when a measure becomes a target – it ceases to become a good measure.
During the height of the recession when garda numbers had been significantly reduced, we were told by Garda Management figures – and propagated by Government – that crime figures were falling. We blew the whistle and said that crime figures were being ‘massaged’ downwards – and we were vindicated by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and latterly the Central Statistics Office.
It is clear in the Report that Garda Management do not wish to be blamed for this debacle – but it is entirely of their own making. Their obsession with data collection, for no clear and distinct purpose, while our members were issued with endless directives at a time of under-resourcing, no training, increased workloads and an unclear system of collation was a policy of failure.
Our members will not be scapegoated for ill-considered policies – and this should be the focus of political attention. If the people of Ireland have been let down; then it is in the management and deployment of scant resources to appease the need for purposeless data by those in power.