Saturday 22 July 2017

Gardaí to see if cuts to training at fault for million fake breath tests

Gardai are probing if cuts to training and supervision of members is to blame for the recording of almost a million bogus breath tests. Stock picture
Gardai are probing if cuts to training and supervision of members is to blame for the recording of almost a million bogus breath tests. Stock picture
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Gardai are probing if cuts to training and supervision of members is to blame for the recording of almost a million bogus breath tests.

Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan has produced two interim reports on the issue.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan is to appear before the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) next week where TDs want to quiz her on the controversy.

Some PAC members have complained that Mr O'Sullivan's report won't be completed in time for that meeting. His interim reports have been sent to the committee.

The first, dated April 24, outlines the approach to the investigation into breath tests at Mandatory Alcohol Testing (MAT) checkpoints between late 2011 and the end of October 2016.

Mr O'Sullivan details his intention to look into a number of potential causes.

He said one approach would be "to determine if decreased levels of supervision and training impacted on the recording of breath test data" on the Garda computer system, Pulse.

The database of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) -which calibrates the testing kits for the Garda - and Pulse would be analysed to "identify problematic Garda districts" and determine any underlying reasons for inconsistencies.

The scandal was first sparked after the MBRS recorded just over one-million breath tests while Garda records suggested there was almost two million. Mr O'Sullivan's probe was also to look into the supply of mouthpieces for breathalysers compared with the number of tests recorded and to review MAT checkpoint procedures.

Mr O'Sullivan reported that preliminary enquiries indicated that training in MAT checkpoints was not included in the Continuous Professional Development (CDP) Programme, but rather was included in policy documents that could be access by members online.

The examination team intended to check how often this was accessed.

The team also found that specific - unnamed - Garda divisions were "consistently presenting with the highest discrepancy in figures". These were selected for on-site visits by the investigators.

In his June 25 report, Mr O'Sullivan writes of "considerable difficulties" in reconciling data in the course of the examination, including information held by the MBRS and the Garda." He anticipated his report will be completed by July 31.

Irish Independent

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