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Garda force needs 'cultural change' to help victims of domestic abuse

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Noirin O’Sullivan, Interim Garda Commissioner, at the Mass marking the occasion of the beginning of the new legal year. Photo: Steve Humphreys.

Noirin O’Sullivan, Interim Garda Commissioner, at the Mass marking the occasion of the beginning of the new legal year. Photo: Steve Humphreys.

Noirin O'Sullivan

Noirin O'Sullivan

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Noirin O’Sullivan, Interim Garda Commissioner, at the Mass marking the occasion of the beginning of the new legal year. Photo: Steve Humphreys.

The organisation for victims of domestic abuse has called for a ‘cultural change’ and ‘leadership from the top’ after a report criticised gardai’s handling of domestic abuse incident.

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland programme earlier today, Safe Ireland spokesperson Sharon O’Halloran said nothing surprised them when it came to the report’s findings on domestic violence.

A 500-page report was compiled by the Garda Inspectorate after a two-year investigation.

The report is a scathing indictment of how the force investigates and classifies crimes and puts forward a number of recommendations.

One of the areas it examined was domestic violence.

One incident cited by the report dates to June 2012 when gardai received a domestic violence report in which it was alleged a man was “breaking up the place”.

It was not recorded on the PULSE system until July 2013, following a request from the garda inspectorate.

Welcoming the report, Ms O’Halloran described it as a “very strong and robust report and the authors understand the complexity of domestic violence”.

“Nothing surprises us about this report – women have been telling us this for years,” she added.

When the garda response is found to be ineffective, it can have consequences for women who are victims of domestic abuse.

“The violence continues and often escalates,” Ms O’Halloran said.

The report found there was a negative attitude among gardai towards domestic abuse allegations, with some members finding them “problematic, time consuming and a waste of resources”.

“This report calls for system change.. but it also calls for cultural change,” Ms O’Halloran added.

“Until this is addressed, we’re not going to change those statistics.

“This issue needs leadership from the very top.”

She called on “leadership from the top” – particularly from Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Taoiseach Enda Kenny – and asked for implementation of recommendation take place as soon as possible.

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