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Tuesday 29 July 2014

Probe to expose garda failure to report crime

maeve sheehan

Published 13/07/2014|00:00

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Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Frances Fitzgerald

GARDAI are set to face more criticism in a new report that will highlight routine flaws and oversights in how crimes are investigated.

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The report by the independent Garda Inspectorate has been two years in the making and is expected to identify numerous instances of poor practice in the force.

The findings are expected to cover how some crimes are going unreported on the internal Pulse system and how some suspects who breach their bail conditions are 
going unpunished.

The extensive root and branch examination conducted by the Garda Inspectorate will provide a national snapshot of the state of policing in Ireland at a time when the force has suffered serious reputational damage from a wave of scandals in recent months. It is due to be published shortly after it is submitted to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald before the end of the summer.

The Garda Inspectorate examined not only detective resources, but basic garda practices in preventing and investigating crime, how crimes are recorded internally and how investigations progress, and training of detectives. According to sources, its conclusions will mirror some of the findings of the damning Geurin Report into claims of garda malpractice made by the Garda whistleblower, Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

The sergeant's allegations largely centred on poor policing practices in Co Cavan, such as altering Pulse records, and routine negligence in following up on crimes. But the inspectorate's report - believed to run to several hundred pages - has investigated garda practices in divisions across the country.

The Garda Inspectorate's report will feed into a Cabinet committee on justice reform headed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny which is overseeing a policing reform. Ms Fitzgerald said earlier this month that the policing reform crosses a huge spectrum, from high-level management to the role of whistle blowers and to "matters of basic policing, performance and human 
resources".

Ms Fitzgerald met with the Garda Inspectorate, headed by chief inspector Bob Olsen, a short time after she was appointed minister for justice. The report is also expected to expose the force to a fresh round of criticism, at a time when the interim Garda Commissioner, Noriin O'Sullivan, is struggling 
to rebuild confidence.

Ms O'Sullivan told the Public Accounts Committee last week that garda numbers have fallen to a "critical level" (13,000 officers compared to 14,500 in 2012) as more and more people "rushed to violence" to resolve disputes.

A spokeswoman for the Garda Inspectorate said she was unable to comment on the contents of inspection. She said the inspectorate has been working on an "in-depth inspection" of crimes, from when they are first reported to gardai and following the investigations though to the end.

Sunday Independent

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