Wednesday 15 August 2018

Top Garda official: Treatment of analysts worrying and unacceptable

Joseph Nugent offered reassurances to the committee and wider public, saying lessons have been learned.

An Garda Siochana chief administration officer Joseph Nugent gives evidence to the Justice Committee (Screenshot/PA)
An Garda Siochana chief administration officer Joseph Nugent gives evidence to the Justice Committee (Screenshot/PA)

By Lesley-Anne McKeown, Press Association

The treatment of two civilian analysts who claimed they were undermined after raising concerns about inaccurate homicide statistics was worrying and unacceptable, a senior Garda official has said.

Joseph Nugent, the force’s chief administrative officer, also agreed testimony provided by the two women had been reliable and accurate.

In evidence to the Oireachtas Justice Committee on Wednesday, he said: “I think that we as an organisation have learned lessons.”

Last month Garda analysts Lois West and Laura Galligan told TDs they believed their professionalism had been attacked after they highlighted inaccuracies with the Garda Pulse recording system that meant some killings were not registered as crimes.

A review of over 500 domestic deaths between 2013 and 2015 flagged 41 for further investigation and eventually 12 were upgraded to homicide.

The deaths had originally been recorded as more minor crimes, including non-fatal assaults.

A much wider review of domestic deaths was now being carried out, taking in all cases between 2003 and 2017.

Mr Nugent said the analysts’ treatment had been worrying for those in the senior ranks of An Garda Siochana.

He said: “If we step back from the particular issue it is certainly very worrying that individuals would have concerns about their treatment in the organisation.

“It was of major concern to myself and the commissioner and others in the organisation.”

TDs also raised concerns the analysts’ felt their work had been “ignored” and they felt “pressurised” into signing off a report for the Policing Authority which they had not approved.

Mr Nugent said he “did not know” why their report was not given “significant attention”.

He added: “I think ignored has a particular meaning. I think others felt that they perhaps had a better perspective on the issue – I am not saying that’s right or wrong – I am saying that there was a difference in perspective around the issues.

“However the two individuals felt they were being ignored and that’s as important as the issue itself and that should not be the case.”

Mr Nugent offered reassurances to the committee and wider public.

“I think that we as an organisation have learned lessons,” he said. “There should have been a far greater level of engagement around the signing off of that report and report and reports of that nature.”

He also batted away suggestions there was a “disregard” for civilians working in the force.

Mr Nugent said: “I haven’t seen it in person. I have been with the organisation since August 2016 and it has not been an issue that I have encountered. Others in the organisation have different experiences.

“As a single organisation we will have 4000 civilian members by 2021, 15000 Garda members and 2000 reserves. Everyone who works in the organisation should feel part of that organisation.”

Press Association

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