The SARA policing model is being implimented by gardaí to address problems in Irish communities.

New solutions to old problems for gardaí

A modern, four-pronged approach used by police forces around the world to tackle problems within communities has been presented to stakeholders in Cork.

The Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment (SARA) model is a structured framework designed to help police deal with a range of operational issues including crime prevention and reduction.

The framework defines a problem as two or more incidents that are similar in nature, are capable of causing harm, and where there is a public expectation for police to do something about it.

Incidents can be similar in nature in their location, suspected offenders, victim group, behaviour involved, timing, and evidence.

The first of the four steps – scanning – is the spotting of problems using knowledge and basic data.

Analysis allows for conditions to be identified that give rise to a certain problem by examining its characteristics and impact.

Response refers to any action taken to address a problem based on the detailed completion of the previous two steps.

The final stage – assessment – involves looking back to see if the solution has worked and what lessons can be learned. The stage will assess whether a particular problem still exists and requires continuing attention. It will also serve to approve problem solving methods that have worked, as well as enabling effective problem solving to be recognised within a given police service.

The SARA policing method was presented at Monday’s Cork county joint policing committee meeting in County Hall.

Speaking at the meeting, Sergeant Morgan O'Sullivan of the West Cork Crime Prevention Office said the SARA policing model puts a far more structured framework on methods that gardaí have been using for some time.

He also said that solving problems within a community “doesn't always have to end in a court situation”.

Asked if the model will put extra pressure on an already stretched police force, Sgt O'Sullivan said: “No, we wouldn't see it as that because these are issues that the guards are dealing with in any case in the course of our duty. It's not adding a layer, it's just solving a problem in a more successful, structured way.”

Commenting after the presentation, Independent Fermoy Cllr Frank Roche said he feels modern policing regulations have limited the powers of gardaí.

He also said that in many cases in his area, it is widely known who is committing certain crimes.

“I have fierce sympathy for the gardaí because when they solve a crime, a lot of these criminals go into court and the judge only gives them a slap on the wrist and leaves them off.

“It's very sad that a guard, because of new regulations, they can't go out to that particular person and give them a good kick up the backside.

“I hope I'm not talking out of place, but I'm talking about the old fashioned way the police worked and I think it worked very well in the past.”