Monday 15 October 2018

Garda scandal brewing over homicide figures

Labour Party TD Alan Kelly called on the Justice Minister to become actively involved in the review of Garda statistics. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Labour Party TD Alan Kelly called on the Justice Minister to become actively involved in the review of Garda statistics. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

There are growing concerns among senior gardaí that a review into the accuracy of homicide figures could be the next big scandal to rock the force, the Irish Independent understands.

Sources say "another major controversy" could be on the way amid rows in the Garda Headquarters over the classification of deaths during the past 15 years.

A number of Garda personnel have taken issue with their superiors' handling of a review of statistics which has been ongoing since last year.

"There are families who believe that a loved one died for one reason, but the review suggests it may now have been murder," said a source.

Some of those working on the review have clashed with senior management over the reclassification of a significant number of cases.

Among the disputed incidents are deaths caused by dangerous driving that it is now believed should have been recorded as homicide.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is currently refusing to publish homicide figures because it has questions over the information being supplied by An Garda Síochána.

The body is working on the issue with the Policing Authority.

Last night, Labour Party TD Alan Kelly called on the Justice Minister to become actively involved in the review of Garda statistics.

He said it is "frankly incredible" that the CSO refused for the third time in December to publish formal homicide statistics.

"We need to have confidence that gardaí are classifying homicides correctly. There is no other worse crime than to take another person's life," said Mr Kelly.

"We also need to know that the gardaí are correctly investigating homicides and categorising them. Furthermore, we need to have a guarantee that the gardaí have the skills, the people and the training to do this work."

Initial feedback from the internal Garda review showed errors in the recording of 6pc of cases between 2003 and the end of May 2017.

Some 63 homicide cases involving dangerous driving were flagged on the system in error as a more minor road incident for statistical purposes.

Twenty-six homicides took place in incidents where there were multiple deaths, but just one was counted.

It was expected that the full review would be completed by last September, but sources say it has been delayed by internal wrangling.

Sources noted that while the numbers involved are far less than those linked to the recent breath-testing scandal, "the impact could be as big because we're talking about homicides".

Mr Kelly said people "need to once and for all know fully and transparently what homicides have taken place".

"I want the Minister for Justice to give confidence to the public that there are not families in Ireland who are unaware that their loved ones were actually a victim of homicide, rather than a road traffic death, an assault, a result of misadventure or another form of accident."

The Tipperary TD said it would be a "national scandal" if gardaí were delaying informing families of reclassifications.

Irish Independent

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