Tuesday 6 December 2016

Victims of crime were 'not well-served' by gardai - Justice Minister on O'Higgins report

Published 11/05/2016 | 13:39

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald (Photo: Tom Burke)
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald (Photo: Tom Burke)

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has said the O’Higgins report shows victims of crime were “not well served” by An Garda Siochana.

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Speaking as the long awaited report into allegations by whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe was published, Ms Fitzgerald said it had identified some unacceptable shortcomings in investigations.

The commission of investigation led by Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins examined eight cases in the Cavan/Monaghan Garda District which Sgt McCabe had raised concerns about.

It found shortcomings in how a number of these cases were investigated, with junior and inexperienced gardaí being left to conduct probes.

However, complaints against Justice Minister Alan Shatter, former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and a number of other senior gardaí were not upheld.

Speaking about the handing of certain cases, Ms Fitzgerald said: “We should not lose sight of one central and unpalatable fact. The report identifies a number of cases where victims of crime were not well served by An Garda Síochána.

“That is as unacceptable as it is disheartening and we must take all measures open to us to ensure that these shortcomings are not repeated.”

The report made a series of recommendations, including:

· The need for a written framework on the precise duties expected from a sergeant in charge at a garda station;

· A review of the terms and conditions for sergeants in charge to ensure these adequately reflect the duties they undertake;

· That victim impact statement become standard procedure in all courts;

· That both the prosecution and the defence have a right to see the contents of any psychiatric report on which a judge relies in making a decision;

· The duties of unit sergeants in supervising and assisting members of their units, as a matter of routine, should be stressed, and monitored regularly by superintendents or divisional officers;

· A new performance management system being introduced in An Garda Síochána should be implemented immediately and should be part of the culture of the force;

· All ranks of the force should be diligent in taking proper notes and unit sergeants should regularly monitor the performance of their unit members in that regard.

·  The Garda Computer Crime Unit should be given adequate resources and personnel to carry out its functions.

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