| 17.9°C Dublin

Garda chief settles row with GRA over crime statistics

A row over allegations that crime statistics were being massaged has been settled after discussions between Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Garda Representative Association president John Parker.

Mr Parker had claimed that some offences were being reclassified when they were recorded while others were not being investigated unless the victim made a signed statement of complaint.

However, the rank and file leader said yesterday that some of his remarks had been taken out of context and he had not indicated there was any wrongdoing involved.

Mr Callinan issued a strong statement yesterday morning denying the claims made at the association's annual conference in Westport on Monday night. And when he arrived to address delegates yesterday afternoon he immediately spoke to Mr Parker about the allegations.

The commissioner's formal address to the conference was greeted with silence by the rank and file gardai – although he was later given an ovation following a question and answer session, which was held behind closed doors and lasted for more than an hour.

Mr Callinan said later he had been concerned when he heard the media reports and wanted to seek clarification from Mr Parker.

He had now been provided with that clarification and been told by Mr Parker that there was no information to suggest there was anything wrong with the statistics.

"Certainly, it is the case that when burglaries are reported, they are recorded as burglaries. All of these things are investigated, people are arrested and brought before the courts," he added.

Mr Callinan said the public could be assured that when crimes were reported, they were all recorded and investigated.

Review

He pointed out that the categorisation of a crime was a matter for the individual garda investigating it and an independent element review was introduced at the crime processing centre in Castlebar.

He said it was "not true" that crimes were not being investigated if the victim did not make a signed statement. All crimes were investigated and recorded.

"That will always remain the position," he added.

Asked about the association's demand for an independent police authority to take over responsibility for the force from the Government, Mr Callinan said he did not think an authority was needed here.

The association argued at the conference that an authority would remove political interference in the running of the force.

The Government at the moment has the final say over the garda budget and the Cabinet also approves all senior garda appointments.

But Mr Callinan said that since his appointment two years ago, Justice Minister Alan Shatter had never "crossed the rubicon" and tried to interfere with what he did.

Responding to remarks about the gardai being unable to catch travelling gangs who were using high-powered cars to launch a burglary spree around the country, he said the force had a number of top-range vehicles.

Mr Callinan disclosed that since Operation Fiacla was set up a year ago to tackle the surge in burglaries, there had been 5,000 arrests and over 2,700 people had been brought before the courts.

Irish Independent