Fórsa officials have contacted Garda headquarters to express concerns about the loss of specialist staff in the IT department. News that over a third of in-house Garda IT staff had left in recent years broke late last week.
The union says An Garda Síochána is struggling to recruit specialist staff because significantly better pay and conditions are available to IT workers in the private sector.
Fórsa official Shane Lambert said the service would need to improve pay and conditions to recruit and prevent a further haemorrhage of staff to private companies.
“An Garda Síochána will struggle to prevent the loss of top IT staff to private companies, and even public service bodies, if they don’t compete with the stronger pay and conditions on offer,” he said.
Fórsa has made contact with Garda human resource management, the Policing Authority, and the Garda Inspectorate to highlight the issue.
The news of staff losses has also raised concerns about a dependence on private companies to operate essential computer systems and databases. Fears were expressed in a letter from the Garda headquarters to the justice department, which sought more resources to address the issue.
RTÉ reported that up to €50 million a year is being spent on IT resources provided by private companies. The union says this will likely increase if staffing issues remain unaddressed.
Some months back, Fórsa made a written submission to the Public Service Pay Commission, which is examining recruitment and retention problems in parts of the civil and public service. The union put forward evidence to show that the civil service is struggling to recruit staff in many areas because salaries are not keeping pace with those available in comparable private sector jobs.