The Realities of Policing Diverse Communities from Minority and Police Perspectives
From the mid-1990s onwards, Ireland experienced unprecedented growth levels in immigration from around the world, prompted by the country’s changing economic fortunes. In turn, the people of a very small and conservative country saw the rapid development of diverse minorities in their midst, especially in the capital, Dublin.
From a sociological point of view, such communities posed challenges for the national police force, An Garda Síochána. As part of a strategy to engage with rapidly changing demographics, An Garda Síochána launched the Garda Racial and Intercultural Office (GRIO). In 2001, the author of this book was invited to establish a framework, and practical measures to negotiate the non-discriminatory policing of Ireland’s changing society. The author proposed the appointment of Garda Ethnic Liaison Officers (ELOs) to liaise and reassure members of these new minorities, while developing the officers’ own deeper understanding of difference and vulnerability. These appointed ELOs were trained in cultural awareness and difference by the author, in conjunction with minority representatives, which in turn, influenced their thinking in the delivery of a non-discriminatory front-line police service.
The role of the ELO makes the Irish police authorities one of the first in the world with specialist officers dedicated to building relations with minorities. This book has many lessons to offer sociologists, academics, criminologists, lawyers, social policymakers and police institutions dealing with the plight of refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants and marginalised people the world over.
A police officer with 39 years’ service, David J. McInerney, PhD, served as Head of the Garda National Diversity Unit from 2001 to 2019, and pioneered the Garda Ethnic Liaison Officer concept in response to the dramatic increase in the non-Irish-born population growing from 3% in 2001 to 17% in 2016. He devised policy and strategy from working directly at the front-line policing level with Ireland’s diverse society. He also qualified as a mediator and human rights and anti-discrimination trainer in 1994, and was a consultant with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Bosnia Herzegovina in 1998, developing and delivering human rights training to police from 42 nationalities. In addition, he qualified as an expert Hate Crime and Anti-Radicalisation Trainer in 2006. He was awarded a PhD from the Department of Sociology of University College Dublin in 2016. His thesis was entitled “Evaluating the role of Garda Ethnic Liaison Officers (ELOs): Do Garda ELOs develop positive relations with minority communities?”
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