Tuesday 20 February 2018

Watchdog refers 25pc of complaints to gardai

Paul Williams

THE independent garda watchdog referred over one-quarter of the complaints it received about gardai last year back to the force for investigation.

As a bitter row between the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) and garda management rumbles on, it emerged that 597 cases out of 2,089 complaints from the public in 2012 were sent back to be investigated by superintendents and inspectors.

According to figures released by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, the cost of the enquiries carried out on behalf of GSOC was over €1.3m.

Senior garda sources and the representative bodies argue that the watchdog body should deal with all the complaints.

Garda superintendents and inspectors who are tasked with investigating the referred cases have expressed anger that they are dealing with over 25pc of GSOC's workload.

One senior garda source told the Irish Independent: "GSOC have been publicly criticising An Garda Siochana for not co-operating with them . . . while at the same time we have to do a lot of their work.

"Middle management in the force already has a barely tolerable workload. But we still have to take on GSOC complaints – many of them vexatious – and complete them in a certain timeframe."

Most of the complaints that are referred back to the gardai have been described as "petty".

The GSOC referrals have also included complaints from criminal figures such as Alan 'Fat Puss' Bradley and Fat Freddie Thompson. It is understood that these cases related to allegations of collusion between the media and gardai, which were deemed to be vexatious and unsubstantiated.

A garda HQ study found a typical complaint took 78 hours at an average cost of €2,200. Based on that figure, it was calculated that the 597 referrals last year cost the force €1.32m.

The garda watchdog commission revealed the number of complaints from the public about gardai in 2012 fell from 2,275 to 2,089 – a drop of 8pc.

Irish Independent

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