Tuesday 12 December 2017

Gardaí accidentally added 'zeros' to drink-drive figures

The report also established a lack of consistency in the proper application of procedures for
breath test recording across divisions and districts. Stock Image
The report also established a lack of consistency in the proper application of procedures for breath test recording across divisions and districts. Stock Image
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Gardaí falsely inflated their figures for roadside breath tests - including by accidentally adding "zeros" to the results being inputted to the force's computer system.

This was one of the factors uncovered by an internal Garda investigation into the figures being exaggerated by around 1.5 million tests over seven years.

There will be no criminal inquiries arising out of the findings of the investigations.

But it is expected that a number of gardaí around the country will face disciplinary probes, which could result in fines or other sanctions.

The investigation led by Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan has resulted in a report to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

A separate report has been compiled by Mr O'Sullivan on his examination of the wrongful prosecution of 14,700 people for road traffic offences.

His investigation into the breath tests is understood to have found the figures were grossly exaggerated.

It came about by a combination of carelessness when putting the statistics into the Garda Pulse computer, IT glitches in the system, and inflated numbers being filed as a result of administrative errors or incomplete records not properly stored.

The report also established a lack of consistency in the proper application of procedures for breath test recording across divisions and districts.

The Wexford division was found to have recorded the least number of wrong figures, while Dublin West was the worst.

Senior Garda officers are to review the results of the two investigations this week after the return to work of Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan. Mr Flanagan is also expected to brief Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Copies of the report have also been sent to the Policing Authority, which has commissioned financial auditors Crowe Horwath to carry out a review of the findings.

Mr Flanagan has promised that the Garda report will be published - but it is not yet clear if this will be before or after the auditors have completed their review.

The report also revealed problems with the inputting of figures at the Garda information services centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo.

The report did not include pointing the finger of blame at individual gardaí, but where instances of figures being falsified have been highlighted these will be examined by senior officers and disciplinary inquiries may be initiated.

Separate disciplinary inquiries are already underway into the wrongful recording of figures in counties Cork and Galway, but these are all related to alleged cases, which pre-dated the O'Sullivan report, launched last March.

Irish Independent

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