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Survey Findings

The Commission sought to supplement its review by getting some insight into how the promotion processes are perceived by members of An Garda Síochána.  It wrote to a sample of 137 candidates for the Garda to Sergeant and Sergeant to Inspector promotions processes and invited them to participate in a survey.  This represented 10% of the candidate population.  The candidates sampled were stationed in districts across the country.  61 returned completed forms.

The following details the key findings from the survey:-

  • 42 of the 61 respondents either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the documentation/instruction to candidates regarding the competition was clear and sufficient to allow them to prepare adequately for the interview
  • 39 of the 61 respondents either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they understood the competencies method of interview.  However only 24 respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the format of the interview provided them with an opportunity to demonstrate their competencies for the role
  • 40 of the 61 respondents either “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed” that the feedback they received on foot of their participation in the interview process was meaningful and helpful.  Many commented that the feedback was too generic and of no use
  • 45 of the 61 respondents either “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed” with the statement that the process was fair and impartial. There was no significant difference in the results between those who indicated they had been successful in the competition to those who were unsuccessful 

A large number of respondents included remarks indicating that they believed that the processes are characterised by nepotism, cronyism and favouritism.

When asked about factors that might inhibit eligible candidates from applying, many respondents remarked that there are concerns in relation to:-

  • successful candidates may be required to move post or location on promotion and that this creates a particular disincentive to those with families
  • the low level of integrity of the process is putting people off applying for promotion
  • the mechanics of the process itself (such as unfamiliarity with the competency based interview forms and competency based interviews) were also cited as barriers to potential candidates

When asked for suggested improvements in the recruitment, respondents proposed the following:-

  • Independent interview process with no Garda Síochána involvement
  • Shortlisting prior to interview by way of an exam
  • Abolishing letters of recommendation from more senior Gardaí
  • Less reliance on interview process and more ongoing assessment
  • Give the option for candidates to list top 5 stations for assignment if successful
  • Shorten the timeframe between the start and end of competitions. Such competitions can be long and information not forthcoming to candidates about the various stages of the process
  • Have a minimum number of years experience before being eligible for promotion

The Commission recognises that the responses from the 61 candidates who took the time to complete and return the survey forms may not accurately represent the views of the candidate pools let alone the views of all of those serving at Garda and Sergeant level within An Garda Síochána. As such it cannot be relied upon, on its own, to justify changes to the systems of appointment. 

That said the Commission is satisfied that the survey findings are generally consistent with the views expressed by members of An Garda Síochána in telephone calls with, and correspondence received by, the Office of the CPSA over the last couple of years.  Many of the findings were also consistent with views expressed by members of the Interview Boards in their meetings with the Commission’s Audit Team.