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Monday 23 September 2019

Top Garda official 'didn't see draft of homicide document'

Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The head of Garda Analytics did not sign off on a report into homicide figures that was presented to the Policing Authority last year.

Gurchand Singh twice requested access to the report but did not see it until after it was presented as a completed document in April last year.

He told the Oireachtas Justice Committee it was "quite difficult" to sit at a meeting of the Policing Authority while senior officers answered questions on the report.

It outlined that a review of homicide statistics had taken place and management was satisfied all cases were properly investigated.

But Mr Singh said that if he had been asked to review the report in advance, he "couldn't sign off on it".

"I didn't agree with the classifications being suggested," he said.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn told the meeting the initial review of homicide statistics gave special attention to 41 cases of which 12 were reclassified.

He said the review found that proper investigation did take place although this conclusion was largely based on consultation with officers in the regions where the incidents took place.

On foot of a request from the Policing Authority, a peer review of cases dating as far back as 2003 will now take place.

A new working group has been established to carry out this task but Garda management is unable to put a time frame on its completion.

Mr Singh said it would take his department five or six months to analyse the statistics for anomalies.

Some cases will then need to be further reviewed by an investigative team who will study the original file and whether the investigation carried out was appropriate.

Mr Finn blamed some of the problems with the Garda records on the Pulse IT system, which is 20 years old.

"We have an IT system that's 20 years old, that's not fit for purpose. That's at the root of a lot of issues we have here," he said.

But he admitted: "It's not just all about systems, we need to convince and change the hearts and minds of our people. Data is important."

Irish Independent

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