Tuesday 23 July 2019

Report shows 8,000 crimes not investigated properly over gardai failure

Some 3,500 children were linked to the crimes that were reported, but not investigated, by gardai.

By Cate McCurry, Press Association

Almost 8,000 crimes were not investigated appropriately over a seven-year period because gardai did not do their job properly, a report has shown.

Some 3,500 children were linked to the crimes that were reported, but not investigated properly by gardai.

The majority of the juvenile offenders were known to police and went on to commit further crimes.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has apologised for the failings, adding that society has been let down.

A total of 2,492 victims and 988 business victims were impacted by these crimes, and An Garda Siochana is to write to individuals to apologise for not pursuing the matter.

A helpline has also been set up for members of the public which will be available for the next 14 days.

As part of the wide-scale examination of youth referrals, garda officers were asked for copies of files, notebooks and DPP (Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions) directions in relation to the cases.

The number of crimes that were not properly investigated accounted for 5% of all crimes reported from 2010 until 2017.

Some 73% of the crimes related to public order, theft, road traffic offences and criminal damage – as well as 55 serious crimes which included sexual offences, violent disorder, prison breaks, possession of a firearm and threats to kill.

Speaking at the Policing Authority at Dublin Castle, Commissioner Drew Harris said: “I want to apologise to more than 3,000 individual and organisational victims that we have let down.

“They expected us to pursue crimes committed against them, to fill to the fullest extent possible our responsibilities in terms of investigation, and in their cases we did not do this.

“Each and every one of these cases should have been investigated, the public expects that when something is reported it is investigated, I expect the same.

“We have let society down by not pursuing these crimes, some of them serious, by young people.”

Mr Harris added that the failings were caused by both organisational groups and individuals.

  • 16,788 cases there was no prosecution
  • 4,851 of cases had insufficient evidence
  • 2,659 cases could not be progressed because of the actions of the injured party
  • 497 cases did not progress because the suspect had died or could not be found
  • There were 383 time delay cases
  • 291 incidents were no crime was committed
  • 262 cases were not in the public interest
  • 40 cases were classed as other

In response to the report, gardai have put a number of measures in place to prevent the failings from happening again.

Gardai have developed divisional and district teams who will be able to visit people directly impacted by the crimes.

Gardai have said that the vast majority of children involved in these crimes had “chaotic lives” and had a history of re-offending, meaning they had contact with gardai before and after the incident that was not appropriately investigated.

In relation to the 8,000 crimes that were not investigated properly, 96% of these happened between 2010 and 2015.

I want to apologise to those young people we have also let down Drew Harris

The rates of cases that were not progressed significantly reduced from 7% in 2010 to 0.7% in 2017.

Last month, a National Bureau for Child Diversion was established while the number of supervisors at sergeant and inspector ranks were increased last year.

The Youth Referrals System will also be audited for the next three years.

Mr Harris added: “I want to apologise to those young people we have also let down. These were the main, vulnerable children who were suspected of committing crimes and who had committed crimes in the past.

“We should have done better by them in terms of the intervention that we failed to carry out.”

Mr Harris said some officers may have to undergo a disciplinary process.

He added: “We have to take into account there will be an individual examination of each of these cases, in particular where members of An Garda Siochana have been concerned what their actions were and indeed a consideration of a discipline process that may then follow by the divisional officer.”

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