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53 further incidents of 999 calls being cancelled have been identified, says Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

A number of gardaí are under investigation after 999 calls continued to be cancelled even after the scale of the problem first emerged publicly.

A review previously found that over 200,000 emergency callouts in a 22-month period between 2019 and 2020 were not properly responded to and procedures have since been put in place to prevent this happening again.

However, the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said that 53 further incidents have since been identified where 999 calls were cancelled.

He told the Policing Authority this afternoon that these were now the subject of disciplinary investigations and that he was “shocked” it happened despite the time and effort spent by the organisation addressing the problem.

Mr Harris said that senior gardaí had become aware of the matter and that the issue was “very disappointing”.

He added that a lot of focus has been placed on examining the cancellation of 999 calls and to ensure procedures are put in place to stop it from happening again.

“It’s not missed, the importance of this. I don’t want to pass commentary. I don’t have their explanation why this was done,” he said, adding that there may be an explanation but that the 53 calls were cancelled outside of the procedures.

The Authority was also told that the majority of these incidents were alarm calls but that individual dispatchers cancelled them without forwarding them to their supervisor.

The chairman of the Policing Authority, Bob Collins, described the actions as “incredible” and “utterly dismissive” of people who call 999.

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“It is very difficult to get one’s head around it including the risk that these individuals must have known they were taking by acting in such blatant departure from procedures that had been laid down,” Mr Collins told the meeting.

At a previous meeting the Garda Commissioner said that, from their review, it was estimated that around 400 crimes were not investigated due to the cancellation of 999 calls.

Over 200,000 emergency callouts were not responded to including around 3,000 domestic violence calls. The majority of people impacted by this have since been contacted by gardaí.

The Authority was previously informed that there have been difficulties in locating a number of complainants, due to some having left the jurisdiction while in other instances gardaí are liaising with separate agencies to find victims. A garda review of the cancellation of calls has also not found any patterns which would indicate prejudicial behaviour towards minority groups.

The former chief inspector of the Scottish police, Derek Penman, has been appointed to carry out an independent examination, on behalf of the Policing Authority, of the Garda’s review into the calls it cancelled.

This is review is expected to be completed next month.

The Garda chief has previously publicly apologised to victims of domestic violence whose calls were not answered.


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