herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Less than 1pc of garda gripes probed by DPP

Less than 1pc of all allegations made to the Garda Ombudsman Commission last year about gardai resulted in files being sent to the DPP, it emerged yesterday.

The figures were released as GSOC chairman Simon O'Brien insisted that the Ombudsman's relationship with gardai had improved in relation to a speedier "information exchange" between the two organisations.

Mr O'Brien also welcomed proposed new powers that GSOC may get, including the bugging of phones of gardai who are being investigated in criminal cases.

He also stated that neither he nor the other two GSOC commissioners have any intention of resigning, despite calls for them to do so by the Garda Representative Association.

"We can report the encouraging signs in our interaction with the Garda Siochana in terms of information exchange," said Mr O'Brien. "We're now at a place where we've renegotiated and re-signed the protocols."

Overall, there was a slight decrease in complaints to the Garda Ombudsman Commission last year, according to its annual report, which was published yesterday.

GSOC received 2,027 complaints about garda conduct from members of the public last year, compared to 2,089 in 2012.

The most common type of allegation related to the abuse of authority by gardai, followed by neglect of duty and then non-fatal offences.

It also emerged that the Garda Commissioner referred 41 incidents to GSOC in 2013 and that the Ombudsman opened three investigations in the public interest. Of these incidents, eight involved fatalities.

In relation to the public-interest investigations, one is a probe into whether a garda committed an offence while giving evidence in a court case, while another was about alleged corrupt activities on the part of a garda.

A third investigation centred around the high-profile allegations of bugging at GSOC's headquarters.

The vast majority of people who made complaints to GSOC last year were Irish, at 85pc.

GSOC now has access to the Garda Pulse System, with two machines in the Ombudsman's Dublin headquarters.

fined

In 2013, GSOC closed 2,072 cases containing 5,883 allegations. Within this, there was 5,883 allegations, of which almost 4,000 were deemed inadmissible or cases where further investigation was not necessary.

Just 42 allegations were referred to the DPP and charges were directed in just 18 of these cases. A total of 19 officers were docked wages, 17 were cautioned, five gardai were fined while four were reprimanded or given a warning.

The annual figures revealed that 1,815 complaints were made in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR). Outside of the capital, Tipperary was the busiest division with 257 complaints.

kfoy@herald.ie

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