Thursday 18 December 2014

Raft of penalty points wiped 'at garda discretion'

Daniel McConnell, Political Correspondent

Published 03/04/2014 | 02:30

Seamus McCarthy: valuations in line with industry standards
Seamus McCarthy: valuations in line with industry standards

More than one in three penalty points wiped by gardai were done for "exceptional and discretionary reasons", stark new figures from the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) reveal.

On foot of a request from members during a private session of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), C&AG Seamus McCarthy has supplied an update on his 2012 report into the widespread wiping of penalty points by gardai.

The committee is continuing its investigations into the potential loss to the State as a result of inappropriate wiping of penalty points by members of the force and is expected to discuss the C&AG's document at its meeting today.

The "supplementary analysis" document, seen by the Irish Independent, shows that between April and December 2012 a total of 293,368 penalty point notices were issued to drivers across the country.

Out of 15,272 notices that were subsequently terminated, the documents reveal that 5,583, or more than one in three, were wiped for "exceptional and discretionary reasons".

SPEED

Mr McCarthy said that notices were issued after motorists were detected by "intercept" or hand-held devices controlled by gardai or standalone speed cameras.

"The percentage of cases terminated was higher for speeding camera cases than for intercept cases," Mr McCarthy concluded.

His report states that up until March 28, the garda Pulse system "allowed for a very limited number of reasons for terminations to be recorded – most were classified simply as cancelled".

However, following a systems update, more detailed reasons were recorded on the system, which he said "allows for a more useful analysis of the data".

He concludes that 9,968 notices were legitimately terminated because of "processing errors, statutory exemptions for emergency vehicle or disabled drivers and for those who were part of a juvenile diversion programme".

Exceptional reasons given by gardai for wiping points included where a vehicle was stolen or had broken down or where the offender is resident outside the jurisdiction.

Discretionary reasons include family bereavements or medical emergency.

Mr McCarthy began an investigation into the wiping of penalty points in July 2012.

Irish Independent

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