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Damning report finds widespread points breaches

A DAMNING report by a Garda watchdog has found "inconsistent and widespread breaches" of the penalty points system by gardai.

And while a garda whistleblower insisted that he has been "totally vindicated" by the Garda Inspectorate's findings in the report, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan was last night standing over his use of the term "disgusting" in relation to the leaking of details of the scrapping of penalty points.

The Garda Inspectorate study on the penalty points system has concluded there was "no meaningful evidence of consistent quality management supervision, no training and no clear policy guidelines on its implementation".

The report finds there was "no auditing" of the cancellation process of fixed charge notices at Garda Headquarters, Regional, Divisional and District level.

The Garda Inspectorate expressed concern at the "inconsistent application, interpretation and subjectivity of the cancellation of fixed charge notices, which must be addressed".

The report says the cancellation rates across 110 Garda districts show a "significant proportion of cases were cancelled in circumstances that do not satisfy the policy".

It was presented to Justice Minister Alan Shatter last month by Chief Inspector Robert Olson, and was discussed by the Government at its weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday. The Inspectorate has recommended a "holistic approach to overhaul the entire Fixed Charge Processing System".

The main recommendation is the centralisation of the cancelling authority at the Fixed Charge Processing Office.

Mr Olson said the solution is "entirely dependent" on a coordinated effort between various groups. These include the Department of Justice and Equality, the Garda Siochana, Road Safety Authority, Department of Transport, Sport and Tourism, Courts Service, An Post, and the contractors involved in the operation of the system.

Mr Shatter and the Garda Commissioner Mr Callinan both welcomed the release of the Garda Inspectorate report.

CONCERNS

In the wake of its publication, whistleblower John Wilson has said that any other police commissioner would be forced to resign for branding members of his own force "disgusting" when they raise legitimate concerns.

He insisted he and the other whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe had now been "totally vindicated" by the findings and the previous Comptroller and Auditor General report.

Commissioner Callinan last night said he was not referring to the "character" of the whistleblowers.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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