Report says Garda cybercrime strategy in need of major update

18 Dec 2018

Image: © Jane/

A new report from the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland says changes to Garda policies around cybercrime and security are needed.

The Government is to replace both the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and the Policing Authority with a new oversight body.

The replacement, recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, also comes with news that a new Strategic Threat Analysis Centre will be established to coordinate security and intelligence at a central level.

The commission’s report outlined a four-year plan for policing reform in Ireland.

Poor-quality crime data is an issue

Alongside more general policing concerns, areas such as crime data, cybercrime and cybersecurity, as well as the dearth of digital training for officers, were outlined. Looking at crime reduction, the report said that poor-quality crime data “hampers both investigation and prevention”.

It recommended the introduction of new systems and processes, as well as an agile data analytics capability to assist police operations in real time. With real-time data access, district police will be better able to inform the community about local issues, the report claimed.

The report stated that there are “serious questions about the quality of An Garda Síochána’s crime statistics”. It said: “In the case of crime, it [poor-quality data] affects the ability of the police to detect and investigate crime and, crucially, to take preventative measures to reduce crime, which must be the primary objective.

“Good-quality data collection and analysis should be key requirements for any organisation, especially one charged with the vital task of securing community safety.”

The report added that the issue is not merely a technological deficit, but one that would require the police to undergo data recording and use training.

Struggling to deal with digital crime

According to the report, data systems have not kept pace with internet crime’s evolution. “Police in all jurisdictions are struggling to deal with the scale and complexity of internet-enabled fraud. The great majority of internet crimes go unreported.” It added that law enforcement officials also face major modern challenges, such as the dark web and encrypted communications.

Digital forensics capabilities also need to be improved. Industrial espionage, human trafficking and terrorism are all key areas where internet-based activity must be examined. “We recommend that the urgent review of data collection and management advocated above should include internet crimes, how to capture them and how to classify them.”

The report also noted that cybercrime takes place across various jurisdictions, leading to a complicated problem for police. It stressed that the capacity of the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau should be expanded. The role of a chief data officer within An Garda Síochána is also set to be filled.

A centre for digital policing

The report proposes a Digital Policing Innovation Centre, supported by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, which would, along with the police themselves, use data analytics and work with academics and other services to “keep Ireland and the forefront of policing”.

It noted: “An Garda Síochána should not only catch up with the current state of digital policing and advanced information and communication technologies, but also take a leading role in digital innovation in policing.”

A major overhaul of the information management systems used is another requirement. The report added that the technology platform currently used is an incident recording system as opposed to a crime investigation tool, and data must be seen as a “strategic asset”. The system, PULSE, is more than 20 years old.

Finally, the report also called for the use of body cameras by police, and a modern, nationwide computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, as the current one is also outdated.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects