Wednesday 23 January 2019

Gardai 'facing a crisis' in the investigation of road deaths and serious injuries

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Tom Brady and Robin Schiller

Gardai are facing a crisis in the investigation of road deaths and serious injuries.

Despite a 70pc increase in the number of serious injury collisions in the past four years, there has been a 40pc drop in trained investigators.

Garda supervisors say numerous applications have been lodged since December 2015 to hold competitions to fill vacancies in their ranks but none has yet been held.

The crisis was revealed today at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors in Tullow.

The conference heard that data supplied from the garda national roads policing bureau showed an increase in serious injury collisions from 319 in 2013 to 550 last year.

Garda College delegate Ronan McDonald said all regions had been hit by an increase in incidents which involved the attendance of forensic collision investigators (FCIs).

But while the number continued to rise, there were huge gaps in the ranks of FCIs.

"At present, there are 34 FCIs nationwide and 24 vacancies for FCI personnel around the country.

"This does not include four FCIs, who can retire.

"The situation is now critical," Mr McDonald said.

Courses for investigators were booked in 2016 and twice last year but none went ahead.

"There seems to be no succession planning in place to support the training of new FCIs and this may lead to serious shortcoming in the future provision of best evidence to support potential court cases and to insure justice for victims and their families."

He said the Garda College branch believed it was an issue that needed to be addressed urgently.

Tipperary delegate Eddie Golden warned that the shortage of trained investigators would damage the professionalism of the force and said current resources were badly stretched around the country.

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